The medical oxygen installation was set up at record pace.

Fighting Corona: Linde Sweden readies field hospitals in record time

Cross-functional cooperation by Linde helps boost hospital capacity in Sweden’s two largest cities during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses and societies to adapt in unprecedented ways to deal with new and uncertain circumstances. 

One such example is the conversion of Stockholm’s largest convention centre, Stockholmsmässan, into a 600-bed field hospital in a matter of days. And Linde Sweden’s rapid response to help make it happen.

Normally, the facility in Älvsjö just south of central Stockholm is bustling with conference attendees and exhibitors from across the globe. Its cavernous halls, which total 70,000 cubic meters, and can accommodate up to 30,000 people at a time.

But Stockholmsmässan’s normally busy spring conference schedule was cut short on March 11th when the government limited public gatherings to less than 500 people in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Concerns about hospital capacity

“Health and safety are our top priorities and this decision is a precautionary measure to reduce the possible spread of the Coronavirus,” Stockholmsmässan CEO Christian Clemens, said at the time.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continued to spread, concerns grew about Stockholm’s hospital capacity and how to cope with the expected increase in the number of coronavirus patients.

And the clock was ticking. 

In response, Region Stockholm teamed up with the Swedish Armed Forces and several suppliers – including Linde – to repurpose the convention centre’s massive exhibition hall into a field hospital. Work started on March 22nd – and needed to be completed fast.

The field hospital with military tents outside Östra Hospital in Gothenburg.

At the same time, across the country in Sweden’s second largest city of Gothenburg, plans were taking shape for the building of another field hospital. Located next to the city’s Östra Hospital, it would have space for 20 intensive patients and was to be completed within 72 hours.

A steady supply of oxygen

Critical to the functioning of both field hospitals was a steady and secure supply of oxygen. In Stockholm, plans originally called for supplying oxygen to 200 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, but was quickly scaled up to 600 beds. In Gothenburg, not only was each ICU bed to be supplied with oxygen, but Linde needed to also have capacity in place to supply an additional 50 beds should the need arise.

But Linde rose to the challenge by quickly assembling and deploying a cross-functional team to address the oxygen supply needs of the healthcare systems in Sweden’s two largest cities.

“It’s amazing that we were able to put together a team of people from Healthcare, Customer Engineering Services (CES), Medical Technical Services (MTS), and Bulk Distribution and get everything in place in such a short time,” says Bengt Sjöberg, Linde’s QI Engineering manager Sweden.

Ready within days

In Stockholm, a 15-person Linde team of experts in Healthcare, CES, and Bulk Distribution was deployed to install two oxygen tanks and four vaporizers, including stabilizers. A military convoy with equipment arrived on March 25th and the first tank was in place that evening. Welders continued with the assembly and the work was finished by March 27th, making the hospital ready to accept patients on March 30th.

“What normally takes three or four months to build, we managed to complete in three days,” Anders Eriksson of Ersta Hospital who served as a project manager, told local newspaper Mitt i.

Inside of one of the tents, each tent has 4 ICU beds.

Meanwhile in Gothenburg, where Linde received a request for a gas supply solution on March 23rd, a team worked to construct oxygen supplies for 20 ICU beds. In close cooperation with Västfastigheter, Sweco, and GasProducts, the Linde team successfully installed pipes and outlets for a “gas through the floor” solution in a matter of days.

‘Joint efforts result in great things’

“Getting the material such as pipes and gas outlets installed in such a short time was a huge challenge. But thanks to lots of support from all our colleagues, suppliers, and collaborators we succeeded in getting the job done,” says Lars Velander, an Account Manager with Linde Hospital Care in Sweden.

While helping set up field hospitals in Stockholm and Gothenburg in record time may have attracted the most attention, Linde continues to work closely with hospitals across the Nordics and Baltics to ensure medical oxygen supplies continue without disruption.

“Our work across Region Europe North during the pandemic so far truly shows how joint efforts across several functions can result in great things,” says Bengt Sjöberg.

Read the article in Gasworld “Exclusive: Linde Europe North’s coronavirus response”

Text: David Landes

Items: Healthcare