Portland interior firm says VR can help hospitals build space for COVID surge

By Jonathan Bach – Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal

Apr 3, 2020

Eteriors, a division of a Portland interior construction firm, is pitching a way to cut the time and number of people needed to build hospital interiors: Use virtual reality.

In what's essentially a prefabrication process, Eteriors uses software to couple 3D renderings and virtual reality to design spaces, then needs a manufacturing plant and machines that create the resulting interiors. The product is shipped to the job site, where it is installed, said construction manager Mike Johnson, an Eteriors principal.

The concept has been around for years. But Eteriors' pivot to try to aid the coronavirus response comes as an ever-escalating number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon places big demands on medical responders and their spaces.

Gov. Kate Brown in March said an emergency hospital was going into the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, providing 250 beds for the response to the new virus. A search was underway for about 1,000 beds across the state, primarily for non-coronavirus patients, to relieve pressure on the medical system.

The so-called Oregon Medical Station at the state fairgrounds' Jackman Long Building "does not have the ability to support severe or critical cases, nor is it equipped with hospital-grade beds," a state spokeswoman said in an email. "While preparations have been made for the facility, the desire is that Oregonians continue to follow the 'stay home, save lives' guidelines, and that we won't have to utilize it. "