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Doctors Without Borders ... With Inflatable Hospitals

Logistics Manager, Doctors Without Borders
Bordeaux, France

Bouhabib, 43, worked with Doctors Without Borders' R&D teams to transform inflatable tent structures into fully functioning hospitals.

"In 2004, we saw these inflatable tents that had been developed for the Italian Army and approached the manufacturer directly, hoping to develop a hospital with surgical facilities. When we first tried it out in 2005, after the earthquake in Pakistan, setup took almost twice as long as it did in Haiti in January. The hospital itself is nine tents, totaling 1,400 square meters, with 100 beds. But the process isn't just inflating tents. It's setting up all the electric, all the supplies. It's putting the biomedical equipment in place, testing it, making sure it's operational. We use PVC walls and floors to create a completely sealed structure within the tents, which keeps it clean and sterile and makes the tents flexible. Initially, we needed more operating theaters. As time goes on, we need more room for general medical activity. We recently opened an outpatient department."

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.