Company creates hospital bed that converts into a coffin amid the COVID-19 pandemic

An advertising company located in Bogota, Colombia recently pitched a dual hospital bed/coffin to help address shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A video from ABC Displays shows workers using cardboard and metal materials to assemble the bed. In the video, a worker lays on top of the cardboard to illustrate the bed functionality. 

Other workers then use metal bars to adjust the worker’s resting position to lower him into the box, illustrating the device’s coffin component.

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According to a Google translation of a message on its Facebook page, the company noted how the bed would contribute to the need to increase hospital capacity in Colombia while highlighting how the bed is 100% recyclable and biodegradable. The company noted, however, that it is their hope that the second functionality of the bed will not have to be used.

The Bogota-based company is usually at work on advertisements but has been mostly paralyzed over the last month as Colombia remains on lockdown, according to a May 8 report from the Associated Press.

The beds can hold a weight of 330 pounds (150 kilograms) and will cost about $85 each, Rodolfo Gómez, the company’s manager, said. He said he worked with a private clinic on the design, which he hopes will be put to use in emergency clinics that might become short on beds.

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At least one doctor was skeptical of how sturdy a cardboard bed might be. He also warned that any corpses should first be placed in a sealed bag before being put in a cardboard coffin to avoid potentially spreading the disease.

Colombia had over 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 600 deaths as of May 20, according to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. There were more than 4.9 million confirmed cases and 324,000 COVID-19 deaths globally.

Even with those stark numbers, the concept of a bed that doubles as a coffin can seem morbid to many. But its development highlights both the extreme nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fear that current and future health resources will not be sufficient to address the ongoing crisis.

Hospitals around the world have faced a shortage of beds for the influx of COVID-19 patients. From the Amazon city of Manaus to the metropolitan mecca of New York, reports show how mass gravesites now house some who have died after contracting the novel coronavirus. 

Shortages of hospital beds have been of particular concern amid the pandemic, with health departments encouraging individuals to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in an attempt to free up space. 

While new field hospitals were created to address current and potential shortfalls in the U.S., many of these have not been used to their full or intended capacity.

Many of the facilities will now be kept on standby for a possible second wave of infections. Some could even be repurposed as testing sites or recovery centers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.