What is a Mobile Laboratory?
A Mobile Laboratory, which scientists may move from location to location, is a self-sufficient laboratory. A mobile laboratory may process biological, chemical, or other data, depending on the equipment installed in it. Some mobile laboratories are mobile classrooms or teaching facilities. Often companies rent or lease mobile laboratories instead of owning one. Frequently, private laboratory and research companies use mobile laboratories to travel to the customer's location.
Most mobile laboratories are analytical laboratories that use field data to assess the environment for potential problems. For example, food safety scientists may park a mobile laboratory on or near farmland to test lettuce or other produce for biological toxins or poisonous pesticides. After disasters, such as hurricanes or floods, scientists and technicians use mobile laboratories to gather water, air, and other significant samples. Since the transportable laboratory is on site, they are able to identify health risks promptly. Many times first responders use mobile laboratories as decontamination centers.
One of the main reasons that scientists prefer to use mobile laboratories is that they can analyze critical data analysis faster than with traditional methods. Without a mobile Nucleic Acid Testing Laboratory on site, specimens are gathered and then mailed or transported to a laboratory to be processed. The time lost in transportation can be crucial in decision making. In the case of a disaster, such as an unknown chemical spill, it can be catastrophic.
Mobile laboratories may be a truck or van, trailer or camper, or a full tractor-trailer combination. Marine biologists frequently use specially equipped ships as floating laboratories. Portable Physics Laboratory is self-contained with a generator for power; a full, self-contained water and plumbing system; and a heating or cooling system. Most of them have an air filtration system. Some mobile laboratories have airtight interiors for protection in pandemic situations.
Companies that design mobile laboratories build them to the customer's specifications. Options available may include specialized cabinetry for equipment, counter space for performing tests, and pullout sections to enlarge laboratory areas. Some companies offer modular facilities that are freestanding outside of the mobile laboratory.
During the Middle Ages, people tried to escape the plague by sequestering themselves-not an easy task (then or now). Dealing with infectious diseases still comes down to containing the spread.
Modern hospitals have isolation down to a science, literally. Nowadays, it means having a room or unit in which the infected air is rerouted, away from other patients and hospital staff. One way to do this is with Negative Pressure Wards, in which a lower air pressure allows outside air into the room; any air that flows out of the room has to pass through a filter. By contrast, a positive pressure room maintains a higher pressure inside the treated area than that outside it. Clean filtered air is pumped in; if there’s a leak, the air is forced out of the room. Positive pressure rooms are usually used for patients with compromised immune systems; negative pressure rooms are common in infection control, to ensure infectious germs don’t spread via the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
A Negative Pressure Observation Room room is particularly crucial when something like coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) strikes-this new virulent killer is too much of an unknown quantity to take even the smallest chances of spreading. But the need for such rooms can put extreme stress on hospitals, which are not always ready to handle influxes of infected patients-let alone in the massive numbers of the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York, the current epicenter of the pandemic, total cases crested to 75,000 in early April-and the peak hadn’t even been reached yet.
When health systems need to open an Assembly Hospital during a public health emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic, they should be guided by emergency management principles, the lead author of a recent journal article on opening a field hospital says.
Several states across the country have had to open field hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic to accommodate COVID-19 patient surges. A common strategy has been to use field hospitals to treat low-acuity COVID-19 patients who can be transferred from hospitals and cared for safely before being discharged home.
The recent journal article, which was published by Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, features the planning effort for a 500-bed Assembly Field Hospital at Michigan Medicine—the health system affiliated with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Planning for the alternate care site (ACS) began in March 2020, when modeling predicted that Michigan Medicine's 1,000-bed acute care capacity would be overwhelmed by April 10.