The ExCeL Centre joins the fight against coronavirus as NHS Nightingale.
Usually used for large-scale exhibitions, the ExCeL Centre has been pressed into service as a makeshift field hospital, in order to help fight the rising tide of coronavirus cases across London and the UK. A high-speed transformation is currently reaching the final stages, which now sees the cavernous space – more accustomed to trade shows and conferences – house 500 hospital beds, with the capacity expected to grow further. Here’s a peek inside the new hospital, which has been dubbed ‘NHS Nightingale’. (Featured image: Number 10, Flickr)
Quite similar to a massive undertaking recently completed in Madrid, NHS Nightingale was greenlit in order to help ease what’s forecast to be a worrying demand for beds and care across London’s hospitals. Even though our hospitals are some of the finest in the world, the ominously rising rate of infection means that further measures are needed.
ExCeL Centre has therefore been kitted out with life-saving medical equipment, ready to anaesthetise, intubate, or ventilate as needed any coronavirus patients sent their way. Beds and ventilators are now in place, and test runs have been taking place this week with dummies in lieu of patients.
Capacity will start at 500 upon opening – which will be by the week’s end – but could grow to as many as 4000 beds by the time it reaches peak occupancy.
It’s unlikely to be the last such field hospital created in the UK, but since London is ahead of the infection curve of the UK as a whole, NHS Nightingale has become the first. An estimated 16,000 staff are needed to run the hospital, and volunteers from the 2012 Olympic Games have already been tapped to help out.
Nearby London City Airport has closed and offered the use of its runway and terminal to help “emergency services or other agencies to support the national effort”, with a particular focus on using it as a transport hub for NHS Nightingale.
Fingers crossed NHS Nightingale can help save plenty of lives and slow the rate of infection, so that it can go back to hosting happier events as quickly as possible.
Also published on Medium.