Colombian Company Designs A Hospital Bed That Converts Into A Coffin Amid COVID-19 Shortages

A cardboard coffin with a body lies on the floor at Jardines de la Esperanza cemetery on April 10, 2020 in Pascuales, Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Francisco Macías / Getty Images

A Colombian advertising company has come up with an innovative way to deal with the shortage of hospital beds and coffins experienced in many hospitals due to the coronavirus. The approach would provide an affordable solution for countries hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABC Displays has taken a global problem and looked it at from another angle. They designed a multifunctional cardboard bed that can double as a casket if the patient dies, per AP News. The bed has metal railings along the sides, similar to those found on hospital beds. Of course, the railings would also function as casket handles should the patient pass away.

Until recently, ABC Displays’ main course of business was working on advertisements. The company, which is based in Bogota, was also forced to remain closed due to the lockdown in Colombia. The South American country has just hit the 10,000 confirmed cases mark.

The man who came up with the design is ABC Displays’ manager,

Rodolfo Gómez. He wanted to make a difference when he saw what was happening in Colombia’s neighboring country, Peru.

“Poor families don’t have a way of paying for a coffin,” Gómez explained.

Gómez approached a private clinic to help him with the design of the bed cum coffin and said that it could hold a weight of 330 pounds each. He wanted to sell the beds to emergency clinics where beds were scarce and hoped to sell them for about $85 each.

During April, a city in Ecuador ran out of coffins, per The Guardian. Guayaquil did not have enough coffins to bury their dead. Hospitals and mortuaries simply lacked the space to store the corpses. Families were then forced to store their loved ones’ bodies at home. Since wood coffins were hard to come by and many could not afford the cost, they could not bury their beloved.

“Just to give you an idea, 480 death certificates have been issued since yesterday; 150 bodies are being collected each day,” an Ecuadorian politician confirmed.

The Ecuador government then distributed 2,000 cardboard coffins “to offer a dignified burial to those who die during this health emergency.”

However, there seem to be questions around the robustness of the cardboard hospital beds. One doctor reportedly wondered if the cardboard beds were sturdy enough for hospital use. He also advised that corpses placed into the coffin bed should first be sealed in a bag to curb the spread of the infectious coronavirus disease.

Gómez wanted to donate 10 of the coffin beds to Colombia’s Amazonas department. There is a dire need for hospital beds in the department. However, Gómez also admits that, as of yet, no orders have been placed for the beds and he doesn’t know if they will ever be used.