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A magnitude 7.8 earthquake recently struck in Nepal, claiming over 7,700 lives and causing thousands more injuries and widespread destruction. After the earthquake, hospitals were overwhelmed with patients seeking care.
Doctors without Borders, the international nonprofit that provides medical care to people in areas affected by disasters, sent teams of physicians and surgeons to Nepal to help. The organization has also opened inflatable hospitals to treat patients.
Doctors in disaster areas often have to carry out their work in makeshift tent hospitals that have problems with sanitation. Doctors without Borders began using inflatable hospitals after seeing them developed for the Italian army in 2004. The organization has used them on relief missions in Pakistan, Haiti, South Sudan, and other countries.
Three 1,076-square-foot inflatable tents were dropped off in the capital, Kathmandu, on April 30, along with 38.5 tons of medical supplies. The hospital in the capital has 56 beds. Another hospital was set up in Gorkha, near the epicenter of the quake, with an operating room, emergency room, and recovery room. Other areas might be added. A 20-bed hospital was set up in the town of Arughat, which is located about 80 miles northwest of Kathmandu. The hospital includes an operating room, obstetrics unit, and maternity ward. Doctors without Borders plans to set up more inflatable hospitals.
The inflatable hospitals have polyvinyl chloride walls to create a sealed, sterile environment. Sheets of rubber are sewn between large tubes that work like ribs to provide support. The long rectangular panels have grommets that are used to hang up partitions.
The inflatable hospitals are delivered deflated in bags that weigh 2,600 pounds. They are set up on a solid asphalt floor or a set of platforms and can be set up in one to two days and hooked up to electricity and water.