Chen Qianbai is one of the thousands of construction workers who took part in building the Huoshenshan Hospital. While he said it felt like “mission impossible” to build a makeshift hospital from scratch in 10 days, it also provided hope of defeating the deadly novel coronavirus epidemic soon.
Huoshenshan Hospital is the first makeshift hospital built for treating patients infected with the coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in central China’s Hubei Province.
After the hospital was completed and delivered to medical teams of the Chinese army on Feb. 2, Chen still worked at the construction site on some finishing touches.
“I am waiting to be dispatched to other hospital construction sites to continue the fight against the outbreak,” said Chen.
Chen, deputy manager of the IOI project in Malaysia of the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau, returned to his hometown of Daye County in Hubei on Jan. 22, two days ahead of China’s Spring Festival holiday.
With the spread of coronavirus, an order to build makeshift hospitals was issued to cope with a surging number of patients.
Chen decided to volunteer for the project as soon as he saw recruitment for construction workers on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media platform.
“I told my wife the decision. She supported me and asked me to take good care of myself,” said Chen.
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, a traditional day for family reunions, Chen packed his luggage and headed for Wuhan, some 100 km away from his hometown.
“I will never forget what I saw on that night,” recalled Chen, who arrived at the construction site around midnight after three hours of travelling.
“The construction site was brightly lit. Thousands of people were already working there,” said Chen. “The only thought that came to my mind was that I had to take part in the battle immediately and help complete the urgent task.”
Speed matters as the virus continues to spread. Machinery and supplies were sent from across the country. Chen and his colleges raced against time and worked on shifts day and night.
“To save time, we only had boxed meals every day, taking only five to seven minutes to eat,” Chen said. “We just wanted to complete the construction as soon as possible.”
Chen, who was in charge of the hospital’s drainage system and the construction site management, did not even have time to make phone calls to his wife. He only texted short messages saying “I am still fine” every day.
On Feb. 3, the 1,000-bed hospital started to take in patients.
“I feel honored to be part of this,” Chen said. “We will win the battle. Cheer up, Wuhan!” Enditem