In March 2020, as COVID-19 cases began to spike around the country, our team was determined to do something–anything–to help. We realized quickly that access to testing was going to be paramount to stabilizing cases and immediately began brainstorming ways to get involved. With plenty of space available at Loft headquarters and a talented engineering and design team ready to work, we approached the state of Rhode Island with an offer to produce mobile COVID-19 testing sites out of trailers. The idea gained momentum and soon, the Rhode Island National Guard came on as a partner in the buildout.
The Mobile Medical Units are important for three reasons. First, they can be driven directly into communities where access to safe testing solutions is in short supply. Secondly, they are designed to decrease the use of PPE, saving resources and funds. Third, they are flexible-use. Many of the original mobile medical units for administering tests have been successfully adapted into vaccination units. The Mobile Medical Units are a proud example of pure design-thinking in action. As a team, we had the resources, the space, and an idea. The result was mobile testing units that enabled people across the state to gain access to invaluable resources.
This was an unconventional project from the beginning. Time was of the essence and the budget was low. We sketched out a rough design and got straight to work. Compared to the majority of our designs that put emphasis on form and function, the mobile medical units are purely function-driven. Aesthetics were put aside to ensure that we could create units as quickly and efficiently as possible.
As new information became available and guidelines for testing and vaccination changed, we had to be elastic with our design to ensure its safety and efficacy. Working closely with the Rhode Island National Guard, we conducted multiple user testing scenarios to ensure maximum safety for all parties involved. Ultimately, we pivoted from our initial two-trailer system to a one-trailer testing unit that could be easily adapted for vaccinations. At Loft, we believe creating the best product that serves the most people means being open to shifting ideas to meet the needs of the community that is being served. This project is a testament to the power of teamwork, problem-solving, and a lot of elbow grease.