A futuristic screening Pod for Covid-19  

di Priscilla Pajdo del September 30, 2020

TORONTO - Not to be overly dramatic, but, if we are in a war against an unmerciful enemy, then every citizen - corporate or personal - must do his/her part.

In Woodbridge, Ontario, the appearance of an innovative new tool in the fight against Covid-19 has garnered interest in the community. The Citizen Care Pod has replaced the screening tent outside the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades Inc.

As a proactive organization in the community, the College is the first to install the 20 ft. Covid-19 screening pod outside their facility.

The union has a history of building and supporting strong and healthy communities. One example is the $24,000 contribution to the StrollTO program to aid economic recovery efforts in Toronto.

Another is the collaborative efforts with Zenon Radewych, Carl Demarco, WZMH Architects, PCL Construction and Microsoft that was the genesis of the Citizen Care Pod Corp.

The integrated artificial intelligence available in these retrofitted shipping containers are adapted for enhanced contact tracing, safety, and security in the fight against Covid-19.

The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades Inc. and Local 27 decided to showcase the use of these pods. It is an opportunity to model the possibilities at critical locations such as testing centres, schools and job sites that may prove helpful in safeguarding against the spread of Covid-19.

The Corriere Canadese visited the pod first-hand and spoke with the President of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, Mike Yorke, about its application.

What was the motivation to change the screening setup at the College?
Yorke’s response was enthusiastic yet almost matter of fact: “As the weather changes and we head into the cooler fall and winter months, we wanted a better solution to a tent; our approach is to model good union citizenship. Through the collaborative efforts between the Citizen Care Pod Corp, WZMH Architects, PCL Construction and Microsoft, this ingenious solution came to life”.

You are a College of Carpentry and associated design and engineering. How is this ingenious?
“The portable Care Pods are airtight, watertight shipping containers that have been converted into customized functional clinical spaces. These pods provide appropriate personnel the space to safely conduct contactless screening, testing and eventually vaccinations in densely populated areas. They are as “sterile” a booth as medical practices may require. And, the insulated, climate-controlled modules are configured using Microsoft’s intelligent technology solutions for quick turn-around”.

It must still take time and effort to prepare this. From where do you acquire the expertise and technology?
“The pods are a “Made in Toronto solution” to the concern around public health, said Yorke. This type of innovation and capacity already exists in Ontario. PCL Construction, the largest construction company in North America, manufactures the pods locally, in Etobicoke. From design to end product, the construction of the models averages about two weeks. Furthermore, the work provides a much-needed boost to the local economy while the recovery efforts continue. That’s good for our Union Membership as well”.

So, why are we not seeing more of these now that we appear to be entering a second wave?
“You are right. The pods are already demonstrating a benefit to the College, Yorke adds. However, it is up to city and community leaders to see the potential for this type of application, recognize the possibilities and implement solutions. We can only make the initial investment and show the way. The pods are portable solutions that offer the flexibility for easy transport and rapid installation outside high-traffic sites. Wait times at some testing centres are more than four hours. This is just not acceptable. Especially since this type of product can be useful to Public Health and medical facilities, particularly as the number of cases increase”.

How does this work in an environment that may require social distancing, sanitized surfaces and circulation of filtered air?
“The modules are adaptable for multiple uses. For instance, Long- Term Care Visiting Pods stationed outside facilities offer a safe, comfortable environment for residents to visit with loved ones. Outfitted with separate entrance/exits for residents and visitors, the separate visiting rooms provide the space for physical distance required to keep people safe. The unit is equipped with a screening station as an added measure for protection”.

What about high traffi­c, high volume locations like schools?
“The schools do not limit the innovation inherent in the technology or the potential of the “education pod”. It functions much like a classroom portable for class sizes up to 15 students, but with added advantages. Equipped with HVAC systems and HEPA filters for ventilation units, the climate-controlled modules offer a comfortable and safe learning environment for teachers and students at all levels of education”.

It is a wonder why these units are not present at schools struggling with limited space and large classroom sizes.

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