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Miami-Based Architect Proposes Idea For A Hospital That Uses Drones During Hurricane Disasters

A render of what a 'drone-powered' hospital would look like.
Leo A Daly
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Miami-based architect has made it his mission to design hospitals to be more resilient to seismic events and hurricanes. 

Eduardo Egea, from the firm Leo A Daly, has been designing hospitals for almost 25 years. After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Egea came up with the idea to design a hospital that could ultimately help in the aftermath of a hurricane by using drones to get supplies to patients quickly and easily. “Drones are going to be part of our day-to-day tools that we will use in the future,” he said on Sundial. 

The drones would be used to help restock hospitals with neccesary medication in the aftermath of hurricanes. Egea argues that hospitals would save money by cutting down on the cost of storage for medicine. 

Egea recently gave a presentation of his idea to the City of Miami. At the moment he is looking for partnerships and vendors that would help fund and execute the idea. He joined Sundial to discuss how he came up with the idea and if South Florida will see hospitals like this in the near future.

This has been edited lightly for clarity.

EGEA: I've lived several hurricanes growing up in Puerto Rico, but when I saw a post with photos of roads being destroyed and then a particular poster of someone saying I have a family member at a hospital and I need to get food and water to them because the hospital staff can't get to the hospital at that moment it hit hard. It hit home because my parents were there and what if my dad with dementia and my mom in remission of cancer has to be hospitalized and then they're stranded? What if they're locked in a place where they're under the mercy of a staff and clinicians who may not be able to provide them with the right care or may not be able to have access to the right tools, medicines and supplies to take care of them?

WLRN: What does a drone hospital mean?

The patient room would be designed in a way that it has a drone port. It's not just a window that you open and you grab a package there. It has to be some sort of mechanism in which you drop the package, it slides through some sort of net and into the room and you can retrieve it from inside the room.

For example a facility in the rural parts may not be big enough to have the warehouses. How would drones help? You're talking about where all the food and supplies would be cut and we would use drones to bring the food and supplies.

That's correct. We may not have the room. We may not have this land. We may not have the money to build such a large facility to have a large warehouse to have food and supplies for days or weeks. So how can we reinvent the hospital facility and make it more? We will make the patient more empowered. 

Amazon's had the idea of basically starting to deliver everything to us by drones. Why not use that technology to get the patients the things they need?

Absolutely. Amazon had this great forward thinking idea of getting things out of their warehouse in a drone. But what they missed is how does the consumer receive that package. If I live in a single family home that's easy: I go to my backyard and I wait for the drone to arrive. But what if I'm in a hospital. It's an enclosed building. What if I'm in a high-rise building? I will have a small balcony. I started sketching and I said well what if I'm a patient. I have an app on my iPhone or my Android, that app has some sort of a code that is approved by the hospital and my clinician. That gives me access to a full array of vendors, third party vendors, that provide me with food and supplies, maybe some medicine, and I can order and I can negotiate with any of those for best price and quality and have it delivered to my room. 

This segment was produced by our intern Sherrilyn Cabrera.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Alejandra Martinez is the associate producer for WLRN&rsquo's Sundial. Her love for radio started at her mother’s beauty shop where she noticed that stories are all around her - important stories to tell.