A Hospital built in 10 days – A Project Management Marvel!
In early December 2019, in the Wuhan city of China’s Hubei province a patient was admitted in the local hospital with symptoms like cold, fever, and sore throat. The doctors diagnosed the patient with viral pneumonia. By the end of the month, 27 cases of the disease were diagnosed, and the authorities of Wuhan reported the cases to the World Health Organization’s China office.
The novel Coronovirus, as the virus came to be known as, which spreads from animals to humans, had originated in the wet markets of Wuhan, where Chinese shopped for fresh meat and seafood. The virus spread quickly and from humans to humans and by January 20, 2020, 9 people died in Wuhan. In the next few days it spread to other areas in China like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. To contain the rapid spread, on January 23, 2020, the Chinese authorities suspended public transport, and cut road, rail and air access to Wuhan.
To stop further spread of the virus and to treat the patients in isolation, Wuhan needed special facilities. The authorities decided to build a new 1000 bed hospital called the Huoshenshan Hospital on a war footing. A crew of 7,000 members including electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other construction workers started working on the 60,000 square meter building on January 23, 2020.
Three companies - China Construction Third Engineering Bureau, China State Construction Engineering, and Wuhan Construction Engineering Group were appointed to construct the hospital. The construction crew worked round the clock and China Media Group, the state broadcaster showed the construction in live stream. The crew used prefabricated units to enable fast construction and installation. The hospital had facilities like special rooms for isolated patients, which were equipped with negative air pressure so that air would not flow out of the rooms; double-sided cabinets through which supplies could be handed over to patients without the staff entering the rooms, 30 ICUs, a video system to enable doctors contact experts in Beijing and medical robots to deliver test samples and medicines.
In just a span of ten days, the hospital was ready and was opened on February 03, 2020. It was commended as an unbelievable feat. The project had attracted global attention, and was termed as ‘mission impossible’. But this was not the first time that China made the impossible possible. In 2003, during the SARS outbreak a hospital was built in Beijing in a span of one week.
As Wuhan gets ready to open another hospital for the patients, the toll from the virus continues to increase.