MediCAB initiative expands hospital capacity to meet urgent health care needs in India
Wells Fargo invests in startup to help smaller cities in India during the second wave of COVID-19.
The many people who were treated for COVID-19 and cancer at a modular hospital unit in a remote area of India may not realize that Wells Fargo played a part in their receipt of health care. But for the young men who worked with Wells Fargo to deploy modular, portable units equipped as medical facilities, Wells Fargo’s willingness to help will never be forgotten.
“It takes so much to trust in a startup that is hardly two years old. Wells Fargo had a couple of 24-year-old kids come to them with an idea, but we didn’t have the working capital. They invested and made the project possible. So, I am really thankful for that,” said Shreeram Ravichandran, co-founder of Modulus Housing, a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, in southern India.
The social impact and sustainability arm of Wells Fargo India & Philippines funded the work of Modulus, piloting ready-to-assemble medical facilities known as MediCAB units. The first units became functional in February 2021, just in time to help meet urgent health care needs in India as the nation worked to meet the infrastructure challenges of the COVID-19 crisis — particularly in smaller cities and rural communities with high levels of poverty.
“One of the major challenges we are facing in India is infrastructure,” said Dr. Ravikant Singh, member of the NGO Doctors For You, a humanitarian services organization that provides emergency medical to people affected by natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. “We have the manpower; doctors and nurses have been recruited, but without the infrastructure you cannot do the work. So, I see MediCAB as a very good solution for such disaster situations.”
The modular units help extend hospital capacity by providing up to 100 hospital beds. They are created in a factory and transported in pieces that can be assembled on-site in less than a week and are equipped with everything from water and power to PPE and air conditioning. They are also designed with negative pressure spaces to help contain airborne viruses.
“We are pleased that this technology can be used at such a crucial time,” Ravichandran said. “We are already taking more orders for the next three to six months, and we are looking at some export orders by next quarter for a couple more countries. This might be a game-changer or trendsetter for prefabricated structures.”
Although initially used for COVID-19 patients and vulnerable populations, the MediCAB units can be repurposed as regular hospitals and other treatment centers. In Bihar, where cancer is notably on the rise in the population, more than 600 patients received COVID-19 and cancer treatment in MediCAB units between February and May, Singh noted. Additional MediCAB units are also serving as extensions of hospitals in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
“The patients have said they are very happy — they are very comfortable and our services are good,” Singh said. “They have written thank-you notes to our doctors. But credit also goes to the Wells Fargo teams who quickly decided and approved the initiative.”
Another great outcome, Singh said, is that the presence of the MediCAB units have spurred other corporate/NGO and governmental partnerships, such as a collaboration that is working to increase access to radiology units.
“The usefulness of MediCAB will continue once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, as it can be used for the treatment of other diseases as well,” said Arindam Banerrji, managing director of Wells Fargo India & Philippines. “Wells Fargo has a deep and long-standing commitment to supporting local communities. We are glad to contribute to MediCAB’s success and see it become operational so soon.”