Australian patients displaced from hospitals because of the coronavirus pandemic may be treated in cruise ship sick bays and recover on board, if an offer from Carnival Corporation is taken up.
The world’s largest cruise line, with ten brands, has made the offer globally, including the US and Australia, according to a statement issued today.
Today, Australia’s Federal Health Department said they would be sharing the “kind offer” with states and territories.
Cruise ships have medical facilities which can treat cardiac patients, ventilators and other monitoring devices, and can provide up to 1,000 beds quickly.
President Donald Trump has already said his officials will look into the idea. Cruise Passenger is awaiting a statement from Australia’s Federal Department of Health.
Carnival Australia operates P&O, Carnival and Princess locally and has a fleet of almost ten, each of which would have sick bay and medical facilities.
The line is expected to let federal and state authorities know of the offer shortly.
The offer is to treat those patients who do not have COVID-19 to “relieve pressure on land-based hospitals and free up capacity to care for cases of COVID-19”.
The statement says: “With the continued spread of COVID-19 expected to exert added pressure on land-based healthcare facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of COVID-19.
“As part of the offer, interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship’s operations while in port.”
The statement points out that cruise ships are capable of being quickly provisioned to serve as hospitals with up to 1,000 hospital rooms that can treat patients suffering from less critical, non-COVID-19 conditions.
“These temporary cruise ship hospital rooms can be quickly converted to install and connect remote patient monitoring devices over the ship’s high-speed network – providing cardiac, respiratory, oxygen saturation and video monitoring capabilities.
“The rooms also have bathroom facilities, private balconies with access to sun and fresh air, as well as isolation capabilities, as needed.”
Additionally, cruise ships being used as temporary hospital facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients would have the ability to provide up to seven intensive care units (ICUs) in the ship’s medical centre equipped with central cardiac monitoring, ventilators and other key medical devices and capabilities. Similar to land-based health facilities, cruise ships can also house multiple medical functions in disparate locations by using different decks on the ship to separate each required medical area.
The temporary hospital cruise ships would be berthed at a pier near the community in need and operated by the ship’s crew, with all maritime operations, food and beverage, and cleaning services provided by crew members on the ship. Medical services would be provided by the government entity or hospital responsible for fighting the spread of COVID-19 within that community, says the Carnival statement.