BLOX, based in Bessemer, is developing mobile ICUs to combat COVID-19

BLOX
One of BLOX’s recently completed medical facilities. Photo via BLOX

In the ongoing fight against COVID-19 (Coronavirus), one of the biggest concerns is whether or not the virus will overpower our healthcare infrastructure. The United States only has a set number of hospital beds—if those are filled, where will additional patients be treated? BLOX, a Bessemer-based company, thinks they have the answer—rapidly deployed mobile ICUs.

Rapidly Deployed ICUs

Based on studies by the Harvard Global Health Institute, the United States has a deficit of at least 50,000 ICU beds. In order to fill that need, BLOX is rapidly prototyping a solution to bring new medical space—and as many as 10,000 new beds—to the country.

BLOX has already designed a 16-bed Mobile Isolation Care Unit (MICU) ward. Once the site is ready, a completed MICU can be deployed to an area of great need and set up much faster than in traditional construction.

An MICU is a mobile isolation care unit which has three jobs. The first one is, it’s got to protect the front-line health care workers. The second thing is that they’re designed to protect the hospital’s existing capacity. The final job is creating these MICUs to become a permanent and flexible asset that helps serve the health system going forward. They’re institutional grade, they’re reusable. It’s a fleet of ICU rooms that gets to be moved in the future to wherever the hot spot is.

Chris Giattina, CEO, BLOX

About BLOX

BLOX
The BLOX facility in Bessemer. Photo via BLOX

In the early 2000s, designer Chris Giattina looked for a way to make his construction projects meet strict deadlines. Chris drew inspiration from car and airplane manufacturers and wondered—could those assembly lines be applied to the world of building design and construction? Turns out, they could.

Since BLOX is based in the old Pullman Standard train car factory in Bessemer, they can bring every aspect of the project under one roof. Using a method called Design Manufacture Construct (DMC), BLOX creates modular buildings that can be assembled on-site.

“We have a huge design team—architects, engineers, manufacturers—who are attentive to the smallest detail specific to the medical construction code. Once it’s finished, the design goes to the in-house production line where craftsman manufacture everything with precision.

Theresa Hawkins, Office Administrator, BLOX

So What’s Next for BLOX?

A rendering of production at BLOX. Photo via BLOX

Currently, BLOX is awaiting approval and an order before they can begin production. Once they secure funding, BLOX is planning to scale production to 500 beds per month—and is seeking supply chain partners nationwide to multiply that number by 10. Ultimately, their goal is to create 10,000 ICU beds by the end of 2020.

Clearly, the MICU is a potential game-changer in the fight against COVID-19. Stay tuned to @bhamnow for the latest!

  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.