Transforming Shipping Containers into Chronic Care Clinics

Sandy Bay, Hanover Parish, Jamaica

In Sandy Bay, Jamaica, the first in a series of health clinic prototypes was built by modifying a shipping container. This project was designed to deliver telemedical services with a focus on eye care and is part of a broader research effort at the University of Michigan to bring technology-enabled chronic health care monitoring to remote and underserved populations globally.

Health Theme Social Theme

Funding Sources

$400,000 – U-M Third Century Global Challenges Initiative

About the Project

CommonHealth+ at Sandy Bay Jamaica is the first in a series of health clinic prototypes, where ISO shipping containers are modified and designed to deliver telemedical services with a focus on eye care.

In partnership with the Kellogg Eye Center, Eye Health Institute (EHI), and the Jamaican Ministry of Health, the first CommonHealth+ prototype was developed, prefabricated, and shipped to Jamaica in the spring of 2016, where it is now operated by EHI in partnership with local authorities. The work is part of a broader research effort at the University of Michigan, entitled Deep Monitoring which, with support from the Provost’s Third Century Global Challenges initiative, aims to deliver technology- enabled health monitoring for chronic health care issues to remote and underserved populations globally.

As part of this effort, the design team was tasked with developing a strategy for the repurposing of industrial shipping containers to produce that spatial framework within which chronic care solutions would be delivered. While the larger design research project includes a range of clinic types, functionalities, and scales of operation, the first prototype consisted of a single 20’x8’ container housing a refraction office and lens grinding facility, intended to enhance care options already being delivered in less formal clinic settings by EHI during the past 20 years. The unit is insulated, climate controlled, and dehumidified to address not only comfort, but also issues of technical equipment lifespan in humid tropical locations. A generous shaded porch area serves as a waiting ‘room’, and solar PV modules are grid-tied to power operations and produce a modest income stream during periods of low energy demand.

A key idea within the CommonHealth+ program is to structure each clinic in such a way as to produce models of public space, and support community activities. In the case of this prototype, the porch provides an internet hotspot and provides a framework for video projections, programmed variously to support health-related learning, and collective leisure activities.

Prefabrication of the units was undertaken by subcontractors in Illinois and Michigan, and assembled for shipping along with an extensive load of medical equipment, supplies and flat-packed interior fittings in Ann Arbor. When ready, the unit entered the global logistics chain and was shipped to port in Kingston, JM. A team of local contractors assembled the structure within four days, at which point it was ready for operations by visiting medical teams from both EHI and local care-givers.


Related Projects

Health Theme Infrastructure Theme Social Theme

Using Technology to Keep Seniors Safe

Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Using wearable-based technology to help seniors stay mobile and age in place, while avoiding exposure to falls and environmental risks or hazards.

Learn More
Health Theme Water Theme

Protecting Public Health with Improved Water Service

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Improving Benton Harbor’s aging water system using risk assessment and risk analysis techniques, as well as mobile sensors.

Learn More
Health Theme Social Theme Water Theme

Enhancing Decision Making along the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Using remote sensing and security camera data to better understand how people are using the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy public spaces.

Learn More
Health Theme Social Theme

Sensors in a Shoebox

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Sensors in a Shoebox project focuses on empowering Detroit youth as agents of change for their city.

Learn More
Mobility Theme Social Theme

Improving Public Transportation

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Collecting travel data to help Benton Harbor improve travel options for residents, with the goal of increased employment participation and retention.

Learn More
Mobility Theme Social Theme

Connecting Mobility and Social Access

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Rethinking how transit infrastructure can expand access to food, health, learning, and mobility services by creating multimodal hubs.

Learn More
Social Theme Water Theme

Point of Use Water Filters: A Grassroots Train-the-Trainer Program

Flint, Michigan, USA

A grassroots train-the-trainer program on how to install, operate and maintain faucet-mounted point-of-use filters to protect for lead in drinking water.

Learn More
Energy Theme Mobility Theme Social Theme

Energy Savings through Integrated Personalized, Real-time Traveler Information and Incentive Scheme

Washington DC-Baltimore, Metropolitan Downtown Area, USA

The project aims to reduce energy use of vehicular travels by incentivizing individual travelers to adjust travel choices and driving behaviors.

Learn More
Mapping Detroit’s Digital Divide
Infrastructure Theme Mobility Theme Social Theme

Mapping Detroit’s Digital Divide

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Mapping detailed geographies of digital access and exclusion across Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Learn More