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Medical Supply Storage on a Navy Hospital Ship

Storing sterile supplies and pharmaceuticals aboard the USNS Comfort.

April 3rd, 2020 - 2 min read

The USNS Comfort is a 1000-bed hospital ship that has been deployed on humanitarian missions around the globe. It most recently docked in Manhattan to help relieve New York City’s overburdened healthcare system during the COVID-19 crisis, and Spacesaver systems are playing a crucial role in keeping the ship’s pharmacy and sterile supply storage areas organized and safe.

The Challenge

Safety in Limited Space

Although the Comfort is a massive ship with a displacement of nearly 70,000 tons, interior storage space is limited. As with any hospital, areas that are taken up by storage are spaces that could be used for patient care. But the safety of the crew must be a primary consideration as well, and staff were concerned about the storage systems in the Comfort’s pharmacy and sterile storage areas. In the pharmacy, a competitor’s high-density storage system slid along the rails unpredictably when the ship was underway. In the sterile supply area, a competitor’s wire shelving system on an overhead track posed similar risks.

usns comfort medical supply storage

The USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan on Monday, March 30.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

A compact, secure medical supply storage system that ensures the crew’s safety.

medical supply storage small space solutions
medical supply storage small space solutions

Safer Solutions

Custom Engineered for Safety

The Spacesaver consultant at the ship’s homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, worked with the ship’s medical staff and Spacesaver’s engineers to design safer high-density storage solutionsfor the pharmacy and sterile supply areas. The resulting Spacesaver systems use roller-guide carriages with in-rail anti-tip, as well as synchro drive and mechanical clutch brakes. The systems are locked down with an open “underway” aisle with rail-locking bars at the base and custom overhead brackets that attach to the tops of the shelving to prevent movement.

anti-tip medical supply shelving solutions

Creative Installation Process

Installing a high-density mobile system on a ship presented special challenges. The rails were bolted to a plate that was welded to the floor, and an aluminum floor was dropped in and secured between the rails. Metal ramps were welded to the rails to eliminate tripping hazards and provide convenient access for carts.

Securing Sterile Supplies & Pharmaceuticals

To keep stored items organized and secure, most shelves have bin fronts and dividers, and some shelves are secured with tambour doors. Stationary carriages are fitted with shelving instead of end panels to allow for quick access to frequently used items.

Products and services used in these projects:

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