Great team work achieves a minor miracle

Publication date: 4 May 2020

Turin, 18 April 2020.

12 days of work, 24 hours a day, with a team of over 100 people, led by Air Force Infrastructure Engineers, with the Crisis Unit and the Piedmont Civil Defence Force, have transformed part of the historic OGR Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin into a temporary hospital for COVID patients. As of tomorrow, the 8,900 square meters made available by the CRT Foundation, which owns the structure, will be fully operational as part of the agreement between the Region, the Prefecture, the Municipality of Turin and the OGR CRT company

The cost of the project was 3 million euros and was entirely covered by Compagnia di San Paolo.

12 rooms providing a total of 90 beds for recovering patients: 56 inpatient beds, 30 for sub-intensive care and 4 for intensive care that can be upgraded to 12 if needed.
In particular, 2 of the intensive care beds are located in the first CURA module prototype, funded and donated by Unicredit: the container/mobile intensive care unit built in 4 weeks by an international task force that includes, among others, the designers at Carlo Ratti Associati with Italo Rota and Jacobs engineers, using Philips medical technologies.

Everything is monitored by an overhead control room that overlooks the whole health care area.

The first work teams arrived on 6th April and the Air Force Engineers began to work the very next day, with the support of Modorent for the setup work. Sanitation is currently taking place to allow the first patients to be admitted from tomorrow morning, Sunday 19th.

Around 100 health workers will be assigned to the OGR, including around 40 doctors and 60 nurses and health personnel. They include the 38 doctors and nurses from the Cuban Henry Reeve Brigade that specialises in emergencies (from hurricane Katrina to the Haiti earthquake and the health facilities hit by Ebola in Africa). The team landed at Turin Caselle airport on Easter Monday thanks to support provided by the Cuban Embassy in Italy, Aicec, the Cultural and Economic Exchange Agency with Cuba, as well as the Specchio dei Tempi Foundation and Lavazza, which covered the flight costs at a time when no flights were leaving Havana for Europe.

Designed to be completely reused once the emergency is over, the hospital has been built with the support, in particular, of a team of 16 Air Force plant engineering specialists from the operational units (8th, 16th and 27th Campale Engineering Group) of the three Engineering Departments, who are experts in the design and construction of structures in critical conditions. The work carried out in the space of a few days includes all the electrical and water/sanitation systems serving the entire structure, designed and built in compliance with the strict rules for hospitals of this kind.

“Our thanks goes to everyone who worked so well together – explains the president of the Piedmont Region Alberto Cirio – to allows us to accomplish this very important minor miracle in just 12 days. Thank you to all the public and private institutional partners and, above all, to the women and men who from tomorrow will create a field hospital that we never imagined we would have to open. This extraordinary structure has a dual purpose: to treat COVID patients while at the same time freeing up places in local hospitals, so that they can return to take care of every other health emergencies”.

“The list of thanks is very long – said the Mayor of Turin Chiara Appendino – demonstrating how every component part of the local community has played its part to respond to the current emergencies. The OGR workshops has symbolised great moments of change, from repairing trains to becoming a cultural venue and meeting place, the city’s second vocation. Now it has again been transformed, in record time, to welcome patients. We hope that it will soon be able to return to being a place to experience the cultural life of the city, with its second vocation restored”.

“A significant example of institutional cohesion – says Claudio Palomba, the Prefect of Turin -. Today we have had proof that results are achieved when there is unity between all the actors involved, which is associated with the typically Turinese attitude of dealing with a situation in a balanced and cohesive manner”.

“The Air Force – explains the Air Force Chief of Staff Alberto Rosso – employed highly specialised technical personnel from the Armed Forces Engineering Departments to carry out this work, with which the necessary electrical and medical systems were created, complying with the required safety standards. I am proud that the work was completed earlier than expected. In this context, promptness is essential to save lives. The Air Force is working with willingness and determination, collaborating with the various institutions involved in dealing with this emergency for the benefit of the community”.

“Since the OGR workshops were restored two and a half years ago – says the President of the CRT Foundation Giovanni Quaglia -, we have chosen to make them available to the community again free of charge to help people need: this is the absolute priority for us. Because, as Italo Calvino said, you take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”

“The OGR workshops have now added a new, important mission to their cultural and technological functions – says the OGR General Manager Massimo Lapucci, becoming Health Workshops for a few months, to repair the most precious asset of people at a time of difficulty and needs for the whole community”.

“Since the beginning of the emergency – comments Francesco Profumo, the Chair of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo – the most important work we have wanted to do is aimed at supporting health needs, but with an eye to the future. Three million euros to build a temporary health care facility at the OGR, 5 million euros for new intensive and semi-intensive care beds, 300,000 euros for the Non-Profit Medicine Foundation for women and future interventions currently being discussed. Today we are dealing with the emergency, but our commitment is to identify the need for action in the subsequent phases”.

This initiative contributes to achieving the following Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 3 Good health and well-being