On June 15, 2020 a paper entitled “Large-scale public venues as medical emergency sites in disasters: lessons from COVID-19 and the use of Fangcang shelter hospitals in Wuhan, China” was publish online on BMJ Global Health, a subsidiary of the BMJ, a leading general medicine journal in the world. The paper about construction and management of Fangcang shelter hospitals in Wuhan, China during COVID-19 was co-authored by Prof. FANG Dongping (first author) from the Department of Construction Management, School of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University and by Prof. LIU Zhongmin and Prof. WANG Tao (corresponding authors) from Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University.
The paper summarizes the valuable experience of Wuhan in building Fangcang shelter hospitals to combat the pandemic and proposes countermeasures to deal with public health emergencies by converting large-scale public venues into medical sites in disasters. It starts with an introduction of three methods of admitting patients for treatment in Wuhan since the COVID-19 outbreak: designated hospitals, makeshift hospitals (e.g. Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital), and Fangcang shelter hospitals, among which Fangcang shelter hospitals turned out to be the most effective way to improve the function of the city’s healthcare system and to contain the spread of the pandemic within a short period of time. Detailed analysis of the location, construction, and management of the 16 Fangcang shelter hospitals in Wuhan was made, which was followed by lessons to be learned from converting large-scale public venues into Fangcang shelter hospitals. The paper ends with suggestions that local large-scale public venues should be planned as medical emergency sites in disasters in urban planning and in making an emergency responsive plan in the future, and that interfaces for improvement of the shelter hospitals should be reserved while building them to better control the transmission of the disease and reduce casualties.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 at the end of 2019, Shanghai East Hospital dispatched a national emergency medical team to Wuhan without any delay. Meanwhile, researchers from the hospital started to do research, in cooperation with Tsinghua University, on the location, construction, and management of the Fangcang shelter hospitals in Wuhan. Here an academic cooperation where “theory was enriched by practice, and practice supported by theory,” became a new paradigm for cross-disciplinary research in disaster management.
In recent years, disasters in cities have caused huge casualties and property losses, which asked for higher requirements for cross-disciplinary research in many fields. Shanghai East Hospital, rich in expertise in disaster medicine, hopes to improve the understanding of urban disaster management and make more contributions by joining hands with the Department of Construction Management, Tsinghua University which takes the lead in research on urban disaster prevention and mitigation.
Prof. LIU Zhongmin, director of Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University, has long been engaged in research on cardiothoracic surgery, emergency and disaster medicine, and stem cell. He founded the Department of Emergency and Disaster Medicine with the School of Medicine, Tongji University, and the world’s first international emergency medical team which was authorized by WHO. The book series of Illustrations of Escape and Self-rescue in Disasters edited by LIU won a State Science and Technology Advancement Award. Prof. FANG Dongping from Tsinghua University, has devoted himself to the research on safety management and urban resilience for decades. He proposed a three-dimensional approach of “system-of-systems (SoS)” for a proper understanding of urban resilience, and was one of the Elsevier’s “Chinese Highly Cited Researchers” for the past six years in a row. This paper published on BMJ Global Health was the result of joint efforts made by professors from Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University and Department of Construction Management, Tsinghua University.