In mid-March 2020, the number of Covid-19 cases was growing exponentially, causing a serious capacity problem in the hospitals of the Community of Madrid. Faced with such a critical situation of care pressure, the Community of Madrid sought to decongest the hospitalizations by converting one of the largest empty areas of Madrid into a field hospital, thus the project of the Temporary Hospital of the Community of Madrid, also called IFEMA Hospital or Noah’s Ark, was born.
Pavilions 7 and 9 of the fairgrounds were occupied for this purpose, with a total of 35,000 square meters where 1,300 beds were located, distributed at a safety distance of 3 meters between them. The entire conversion process was carried out in record time, with the first patients being admitted just 18 hours after the start of the work. There were 1,000 medical staff, including doctors, nurses and assistants, with the continuous support of SAMUR, Civil Protection and SUMMA 112 personnel. On March 31, the Hospital was congratulated by the WHO.
On Sunday, March 22, the UCR (Central Unit of Radiodiagnosis of the CAM) and the General Directorate of Infrastructures of SERMAS contacted RADIOLOGIA SA for the urgent need to complete the equipment of the new hospital with two X-ray machines. The requirements were very clear: the equipment must be of the latest technology, must be able to withstand intensive use and must be installed and operational immediately.
From the very first moment, the entire Radiology SA team understood that this was not just another project or another X-ray room that we supply every week to our clients. We saw that we were being given the opportunity to contribute our help against this pandemic that, even at that time, was taking several hundred people every day.
Together with the technical staff of IFEMA between Monday and Tuesday we reviewed the necessary pre-installation requirements for the new X-ray systems, and early on Wednesday, March 25, our van was already entering the hospital with the first of the equipment.
Our Technical Service managed to accomplish what seemed impossible, to completely install the two systems in three days, and all this taking into account that they were working in a very different environment and with very strict security measures. It is admirable how they put aside their fear of contracting the disease to provide the new hospital with the equipment it needed to cope with the avalanche of new patient admissions.
Our Applications Department had the responsibility of working with the hospital’s healthcare staff to x-ray patients in the first two weeks after the equipment was commissioned. In addition to the high risk of contagion they were exposing themselves to due to the close contact with the patients, they had to maintain their professionalism even in those difficult moments when after seeing the X-ray they knew that the patient in front of them would most likely not win that battle.
The IFEMA Hospital was in operation for 4 weeks, had 4,000 patients and 1,350 radiographic studies were performed with our equipment. After its closure on May 1, the two X-ray machines were transferred to two health centers in the Community of Madrid where they serve the population of those areas within the normal coverage of SERMAS.
I am proud of our response capacity so that our teams have helped in such an exceptional situation for our society. It is also an opportunity for us to be aware that what we do in Radiologia SA serves to improve the health of people and that is why we have to put the greatest effort in the task that each one of us has, no matter how small it may seem, because from our joint commitment we will be able to provide the most accurate, safe and reliable radiodiagnostic tools.