The iconic FNB Stadium will be transformed to a Covid-19 treatment centre. Photo: African News Agency

FNB stadium could become Covid-19 field hospital

JOHANNESBURG – The iconic world-class stadium is rising up for its new challenge as a potential field hospital for patients suffering from the coronavirus.

It joins the Nasrec Expo Centre, which is only 1km away, as venues that are considered for redesign to house patients who contract the respiratory disease.

Two days after the lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month, a team of professionals including architects, hospital-design specialists, interior and urban designers responded to a 72-hour turnaround brief to turn the stadium into a field hospital.

As the team couldn’t be together, they worked through the brief on Zoom.

Jean Grobler, director at the architect firm Boogertman and Partners said a stadium designed for large volumes of segregated audiences to move swiftly within defined areas lends itself to creating space for patients, medical staff and suppliers to move through a treatment system, while keeping the distancing needed to minimise the risk of infection.

“From basement-level to the upper-suite levels, each tier of the stadium was assigned a role in the flow of treatment from testing and patient assessment to high care in ICU units,” Grobler said.

“While I hope we never have to build our design which we believe is an excellent solution for initial low-risk cases through to full ICU facilities, the spirit of collective problem-solving and goodwill was incredible. It made us proud of our profession,” he said.

Grobler said they worked with the calabash-designer Bob van Bebber and other medical experts.

He said the final proposal is a holistic solution that included adjusting a National Health System patient-flow process from admission to treatment and escalation to ICU wards if needed, right through to mortuaries.

Provision of facilities for patients was divided into three categories of risk, with the appropriate shielding and cubicles for those at the highest need of care and intubation, with beds and less intensive medical facilities for patients who needed to be monitored.

The hospital proposal provides for at least 1500 beds.

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