Gwinnett company building hospital rooms from used shipping containers



A company is adding more hospital beds for Georgia coronavirus patients one shipping container at a time.

BMarko Structures is building hospital rooms in metal storage units at its Lawrenceville facility. The company usually makes offices, restaurants and other structures from used metal shipping containers. As hospital beds across the country fill up with COVID-19 patients, BMarko has added "liberty pods" to its production schedule.

“Our company as a whole saw there was a need for hospital beds throughout the nation,” said Tyler Wise, a company spokesman. “We have the ability to create things quicker than with traditional construction, and we wanted to help.”

The portable hospital rooms are called “liberty pods” in a nod to the Liberty ships of World War II. Liberty cargo ships were mass produced at a scale not previously seen; the BMarko liberty pods can be complete and ready to house a patient within six to eight weeks, Wise said.

The new product has also temporarily quintupled the company’s staff. They previously operated with 20 employees, but now BMarko has added 80 contract workers to construct the pods, bringing their total number to 100.

Each pod has four patient rooms, including bathrooms. The rooms could hold any patient, including those suffering from COVID-19, the new disease caused by coronavirus.

Everything that can be done at the Lawrenceville manufacturing facility is done there; finishing elements including flooring and beds are added after they’ve arrived at their final destination.

In March, BMarko started working on plans for the structures, which can be positioned outside an existing hospital to allow for more patients. The company’s currently working on an order for 24 pods — 96 patient rooms — for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany. The southwest Georgia city has one of the highest per capita rates of coronavirus in the country.

The company is also working with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to get pods to hospitals across the state. One pod was delivered to Phoebe Putney on Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp said in a tweet.

BMarko will continue making the liberty pods as long as they’re needed, Wise said.