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April 17, 2020 3:15 PM, EDT

Georgia Company Builds Hospital Rooms From Shipping Containers

The inside of a BMarko Structures container renovated as a classroom.The inside of a BMarko Structures container renovated as a classroom. (BMarko Structures)

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ATLANTA — A company is adding more hospital beds for Georgia coronavirus patients one shipping container at a time.

BMarko Structures is building hospital rooms in metal storage units at its Lawrenceville facility. The company usually makes offices, restaurants and other structures from used metal shipping containers. As hospital beds across the country fill up with COVID-19 patients, BMarko has added “liberty pods” to its production schedule.

“Our company as a whole saw there was a need for hospital beds throughout the nation,” spokesman Tyler Wise said. “We have the ability to create things quicker than with traditional construction, and we wanted to help.”

The portable hospital rooms are called “liberty pods” in a nod to the Liberty ships of World War II. Liberty cargo ships were mass produced at a scale not previously seen; the BMarko liberty pods can be complete and ready to house a patient within six to eight weeks, Wise said.

The new product also has temporarily quintupled the company’s staff. They previously operated with 20 employees, but now BMarko has added 80 contract workers to construct the pods, bringing the total to 100.

Each pod has four patient rooms, including bathrooms. The rooms could hold any patient, including those suffering from COVID-19.

Everything that can be done at the Lawrenceville manufacturing facility is done there; finishing elements including flooring and beds are added after they’ve arrived at their final destination.

In March, BMarko started working on plans for the structures, which can be positioned outside an existing hospital to allow for more patients. The company is working on an order for 24 pods — 96 patient rooms — for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany. The southwest Georgia city has one of the highest per capita rates of coronavirus in the country.

The company also is working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to get pods to hospitals across the state. One pod was delivered to Phoebe Putney on April 15, Gov. Brian Kemp said in a tweet.

BMarko will continue to make the liberty pods as long as they are needed, Wise said.

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