IIT-M startup is bringing portable, fold-able COVID hospitals to rural areas


A MediCAB is a DIY micro-hospital. The unit is transportable, movable, and easy to install. Moreover, it comes with all the essentials ranging from electricity to medical equipment. Each such unit has a capacity of 15 beds.



While the Coronavirus crisis has peaked beyond control, the healthcare community is frantically trying everything to fight this battle. There are new dedicated COVID-19 hospitals coming up in tier-1 and tier 2 cities, however, the remote pockets of India are still seeking to find adequate health infrastructure. Interestingly, an IIT-Madras incubated startup has found a way to install ready-to-function hospitals anywhere you want within no time.


The startup ’Modulus Housing’, founded by IIT-M alum Shreeram Ravichandran was working to disrupt the infrastructure market even before COVID hit the nation. It partnered with an NGO named Selco Foundation to develop micro-hospitals. By the time they developed their final prototype, Coronavirus had established its grip over the country. The organization quickly partnered with Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) to remodel the project as per COVID guidelines. It successfully installed its pilot project called ‘MediCAB’ in the Wayanad district of Kerala. 

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In addition to SCTIMST, several other organizations stepped in to help the venture. ‘Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter’ funded the installation of the unit at the Wayanad site. The local Government also offered assistance for the successful implementation of the pilot. The MediCAB infrastructure is efficiently equipped. A MediCAB unit is capable of tending to even the most critical COVID patients. The micro-hospitals are maintained at negative pressure. This prevents the escape of the contaminated air. Thus, there is no risk to people living close to the setup.



It is safe to say that the units are impressively equipped despite the smaller frames and portability. MediCAB has four different zones for all the distinct stages of COVID-19 treatment. These demarcations are set to ensure minimal risk of exposure to the medical staff deployed. 

  • Zone 1: As per the precautionary guidelines, frontline healthcare workers are recommended to stay in the hospital. Zone 1 enables the same. It is a cabin housing the frontline healthcare workers. So that they avoid going back to their homes each day. 
  • Zone 2: The second zone is to facilitate screening and temporary isolation of the suspected individual. This is where the OPD is set up. The potential patients are isolated until the test results arrive. The zone houses one person in each room. Individuals are kept under primary observation for 5 to 10 days. 
  • Zone 3: The COVID positive patients are shifted to this ward. This zone spans over 800 square meters. Around 10 to 15 people are kept in a room here. The room has all the basic facilities to make sure that the patient doesn’t have to leave the facility. 
  • Zone 4: The fourth zone is a single bedded or twin bedded ICU. It is meant for critical patients. 

Also read: The citizens of a Remote Indian Town Crowdfund to Start a COVID Testing Lab

The startup which is now 5-years-old aims to transform the face of housing and infrastructure in the country. “It was back in 2015 during the Chennai floods when I was associated with an NGO to provide food and clothing, I realized that the people there were in a dire need for shelter. That was when I felt the need to come up with some innovation in the field.”, says Shreeram. 


When Shreeram began researching for an appropriate solution for the lack of shelter, his first instinct was to research the methods deployed by other countries. It was during his quest that he stumbled upon the concept of portable cabins. The narrow roads in India persuaded him to make his product collapsible. The product deploys a telescopic frame to prefabricated modular technology. This allows it to collapse to 1/5th of its size when not in use. This also solves the logistical problems while moving these cabins.


The startup is preparing itself for the next big challenge of the country which is going to be employment generation post-COVID. Keeping that in mind, the startup is currently planning to bring portable and foldable micro industries for remote areas where locals can be engaged and employed. We can safely say, these IIT Madras students are truly re-building India, literally and metaphorically. 


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