Necessity is the Mother of Invention: COVID-19 Update

You know what they say about necessity birthing inventions? Within our own company, we have seen that ideation model take hold in response to unique design and fabrication requirements during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Two health care related products that have been designed, engineered and deployed within weeks by the talented application engineers here at Unistrut Service Company (USC) give a tangible illustration of how shifts in thinking – and shifts in sourcing - can get the job done under the most trying of situations.

An Unusual Call from a Hospital

One of the most tragic signs of the novel coronavirus pandemic is the need to separate and store bodies of patients who succumb to the disease. Because mortuaries within hospitals are typically short-term storage facilities, there are few precedents for maintaining the number of bodies anticipated.

To responsibly deal with that influx of post-mortem patients, a large Cleveland, Ohio, hospital system realized they would need specialized carts to transport and store bodies in a temporary morgue setting. The hospital administrator’s requirement was to source a rolling cart, capable of transporting and storing four times the number of bodies in the same footprint – essentially a tiered mortuary transport cart.

A Need for Speed

With a single call to USC from the hospital system’s morgue administrator, our engineers were able to put together a “back of envelope” design to use as a preliminary document to get feedback. The same day, pricing was sent to the hospital; a key component of the project being the need for the mortuary carts to be delivered within one week. The project was designed, fabricated and delivered within the short, specific window required.


Four-tier rolling mortuary cart                                    

Mortuary cart detail showing live roller mechanism


Hospital Within a Hospital

A second example of rapid design and manufacturing deployment is our response to new demand for secondary hospital care space within large, open facilities. To help address the need, USC engineers developed a portable partition system using Unistrut channel and medical grade, flame retardant fabric walls.

The first modular Unistrut Portable Hospital Rooms were ready to ship as needed to field locations on April 1. The 10-by-10-foot portable rooms allow hospitals, arenas, stadiums and other open usable spaces to be converted into more area for hospital beds during the predicted COVID-19 surge in the United States. The modular design of these portable hospital rooms allows organizations to have as few as one room to as many as required by connecting a portable partition add-on to the portable hospital room starter unit.

The portable hospital room project is now morphing into a new initiative to create safe, social distancing spaces within businesses and schools.  Building on the portable hospital room design, the new social distancing units will feature a modular design and similar materials.

Modular hospital room with attached partition added


The current coronavirus crisis has led to increasing challenges as our nation’s hospitals struggle with patient capacity and COVID-19 cases continue to climb. The spike in COVID-19 cases has caused traditional sourcing to shift and, in some cases, evaporate for health care institutions attempting to deal with the unprecedented needs required by the pandemic.

USC has seen creative needs-based thinking in response to unique design, fabrication and deployment requirements during the global pandemic. The creativity has come from both outside and within our company. We are proud to be able to serve as United States manufacturers in this time of need.

If your business or organization has a need for rolling mortuary carts or temporary room partitions, contact the team at USC today to request a quote.