From ferry to floating hospital

By Cristina Cabrejas

Rome, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- Grandi Navi Veloci’s Splendid ferry has been transformed into a floating hospital docked in the port of Genoa in northwestern Italy.

The ferry is treating coronavirus patients to ease the pressure on already overcrowded hospitals.

“We will be able to accommodate around 350 patients on board and this will allow us to free beds in hospitals that are very important at this stage.

“In addition, patients will enjoy the advantage of being at sea and being able to breathe iodine and humid air, which facilitates breathing,” health director of the project Luigi Carlo Bottaro said.

It is the first ship in Italy to become a hospital and health authorities have said it is the best and fastest option to set up additional facilities as the country grapples with 10,779 deaths and almost 100,000 infections as a result of Covid-19.

Having witnessed dramatic scenes aboard quarantine ships stranded at sea for days it is paradoxical one is now being used to save lives.

The ship has been loaned by the GNV company to the city of Genoa and so far has 25 patients.

People with mild to medium symptoms who have no other place to isolate will be treated in the makeshift hospital.

The first patients, four men aged 66, 59, 36 and 25, were brought to the port of Genoa in ambulances sporting protective suits and avoiding contact with anyone.

Now 25 people are being treated onsite and the number is expected to rise to 50 every seven days until reaching full capacity at 350.

Most patients will be people who, after a week of hospitalization and overcoming the acute phase of the disease, will be transferred to the ship to continue treatment there for a further two weeks.

People will be discharged after two negative coronavirus tests.

The vessel will take some pressure off overburdened hospital wards in the Liguria region, of which Genoa is the capital, which grapples with 2,645 infections of which 1,243 are hospitalized.

Bottaro told reporters the unique project could be replicated in other Italian ports or countries to alleviate congestion in hospitals.

At present the ship has six doctors, 15 nurses, 12 social health workers and two healthcare assistants. Staff will increase with the arrival of more patients.

Bottaro said it took only seven days to transform the ship into a hospital, since the cabins are perfectly suited to become single rooms.

The vessel also enjoys double rooms to accommodate families “as many couples or parents with children arrive.”

The project director explained that the only works needed to create the floating facilities was an overhaul of the ventilation system to isolate each cabin and ensure fresh air could circulate within the ship.

Each cabin has an outlet that means fresh air floods the space directly, Bottaro said.

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