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FedEx to store mobile field hospital in Memphis


By Meagan Nichols / www.bizjournal.com / May 31st, 2017

A 60-bed mobile field hospital is on its way from Boise, Idaho, to a FedEx warehouse in Memphis.

FedEx Corp. and International Medical Corps — a global nonprofit founded in 1984 that provides emergency healthcare services — have come together to better respond to global disasters.

The International Medical Corps emergency response field hospital, which was built in 2012 after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, is a mobile trauma and surgical facility that — when fully assembled — has 12 shelters and is about the size of a football field. The hospital has the capability to provide 300 surgeries and 6,000 out-patient consultations per month, and is designed to be sent to an affected area in a 48-hour to 72-hour period following a large-scale disaster.

However, with the logistics expertise of FedEx now part of the equation, the field hospital’s purpose could expand.

“We knew [the mobile field hospital] had never been deployed because we couldn’t identify an emergency that warranted deploying this scale and scope,” said Erica Tavares, senior director of institutional advancement for International Medical Corps. “We kind of undertook two things at the same time. We started to look at how we could better store the hospital and reconfigure it so that it was more agile, more flexible, and we started looking for a company that we could collaborate with to really help us think through all of that. FedEx certainly was on the top of our list.”

The field hospital was previously stored in Idaho because a company located there maintained it. The Boise location was also near an airport and facility from which International Medical Corps could easily respond with its U.S. government partners.

As part of the new partnership, the nonprofit and FedEx are exploring how the hospital could be deployed for both large-scale events and smaller ones, such as disease outbreaks and nutrition emergencies, which could help reach more people and save more lives.

“We knew we needed to move it to some location near the Memphis Hub because we have global connectivity from here anywhere," said David Lusk, senior manager of global operations control for FedEx. "To have it in close proximity and to have it in a warehouse location that we controlled ... We get a call from International Medical Corps; we can go get it, bring it to the hub, build it up, put it on an airplane and go within that 48- to 72-hour time period.”

FedEx initially sent a group of people to Idaho to measure the hospital and determined the entire unassembled hospital structure could easily be sent on an MD-11, taking up about 80 percent of the plane's main deck.

And, if International Medical Corps only needs part of the hospital, FedEx can go to the warehouse at 3630 E. Raines Road, pull the needed pieces and transport those on its regularly scheduled service from Memphis to nearly anywhere in the world, which makes for a very cost-effective method. If all of it is sent, FedEx can send it via its FedEx Charters.

Staff and International Medical Corps volunteers then travel to the designated affected area separately and are on the ground when the hospital arrives so it can be assembled. The field hospital uses its own generators, has its own food and uses its own water and sanitation systems so that the local infrastructure is not impacted.

When asked if smaller scale hospital models might eventually be housed at other FedEx locations, Lusk said that topic is part of ongoing conversations with International Medical Corps, which he described as “fruitful” and said have presented opportunities.

The three flatbeds and two FedEx trailers carrying the mobile field hospital are expected to arrive in Memphis Thursday, June 1.

“If you think about the number of human beings that the surgical unit can touch in a disaster ... what is really cool about that is that it is not one time; it is sustainable healing in a disaster,” Lusk said. “It is just such a great thing for FedEx to be part of. We are very blessed to have that relationship with International Medical Corps.”

This partnership falls under FedEx Cares' delivering for good initiative.

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