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Calgary company sees demand for medical buildings

Last Updated Apr 8, 2020 at 6:17 pm MDT

DIRTT’s rapid build, prefabricated alternate health care sites, including these patient rooms can be deployed anywhere there’s space and are designed for infection prevention and control. (Credit: Render | DIRTT)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A number of years ago, during another one of those downturns in the oil patch, Calgary-based DIRTT Environmental expanded the realm of its business.

Known for using proprietary software to design and build pre-fabricated units and buildings, DIRTT moved into the design and construction of medical units. With a strain on medical facilities across the globe because of the COVID-19 pandemic, DIRTT has been getting a lot of enquiries about its products lately.

“We’ve had very strong interest across North America. We’re working on over 50 opportunities as we speak,” DIRTT CEO and President Kevin O’Meara tells 660NEWS.

In the medical community, time is of the essence during the pandemic. Remember how quickly China erected temporary hospitals in Wuhan at the beginning of the outbreak? That’s why strained jurisdictions — in some cases, using field tents and naval ships for medical facilities — are calling on O’Meara and his staff at DIRTT.

“We can have a unit up and running — it depends upon the logistics, the distance as well as the complexity of the unit — as quickly two weeks.”

DIRTT ships its products around the world. The medical units have proved popular with clients in the Middle East. Right now, however, the company is concentrating on opportunities in North America, with factories in Calgary, Phoenix, Arizona and Savannah, Georgia.

“We can also do almost any type of medical facility. We can do something as intensive as an intensive care unit, all the way to a step-down facility that is more of an isolation ward as opposed to an intensive care unit. We’ve got standard pods that people can look at if they want to convert a gymnasium or a convention centre into a medical facility. We can show them exactly how to do that. Or if they’ve got somewhat of a unique space and want to design more of a custom solution, we can do that as well. (Some of the interest) has been actually in trailers, where we have the ability to do it on a mobile basis, as well with fully customized solutions.”

O’Meara says the Calgary plant isn’t currently running at full capacity. But if the need were to arise, they would look to expand their capacity and add people. He adds, the company’s facilities are so big, social distancing isn’t a problem given the current climate.