How Can China Build a Hospital in 10 Days

China has built the Huoshenshan Hospital in under 10 days. The hospital opened on the outskirts of Wuhan today and will begin accepting patients for treatment of the novel Coronavirus.  The fact that this hospital was built from scratch beginning on just January 24th, is mind boggling.

Consider the myriad of decisions that have been made in conjunction with uber organization, process development and planning skills.  A monumental task capable it seems by only the Chinese.  And a lot can be learned from this.

With 4500 workers toiling around the clock, the facility occupies 269,000 square feet and holds 1000 beds in prefabricated modules.  How is it possible to build such a facility in just over a week?

There are 3 main reasons why China is capable of accomplishing these incredible construction feats with unimaginable speed.

The Learning Curve

Yes, the Chinese have extreme experience with construction.  In 2016 China built 84 skyscrapers compared to just 7 in the US.  With each project the Chinese learn from and improve, always staying open to new possibilities and technology.

The hospital just outside Beijing built in 2003 during the SARS epidemic in China was a learning opportunity on how to do the job and get it done fast.  Using prefabricated modular buildings made the work go faster. Similar techniques in building the Huoshenshan hospital are used now during the 2019-nCov epidemic.

The Xiaotangshan (SARS) hospital in northern Beijing is no longer used and the same may be the fate of the Huoshenshan hospital, which will act as a triage centre for novel Coronavirus infected patients.  However, building such a facility takes planning and organization, and China has learned this through earlier experience.


The Chinese never give up.  Faced with an unimaginable crisis they rally to get the job done.  Thousands of workers were brought in to complete the work.  And work continued day and night. 

How the chain of command worked and how thousands of workers were organized to complete tasks in just a matter of days is baffling, but it has been done.  And I believe this is largely due to…

The Oneness Mindset

In any organization you have people who buy in to new ideas and you have the detractors.  Detractors can be valuable because they ask questions and push for improvements.  However, when in crisis mode a oneness mindset is essential to getting the job done.

As a young child I was exposed to war.  During that time my family had a plan, directed by my father, that whenever the bomb warning sirens went off, no matter where we were, or what age we were, we all had a job.  My sister had to shutter windows.  My brother had to ensure the path to the bunker was clear and to get my grandmother there.  And mine was to run through the house shutting off all the lights, because I could move like the wind.  The bombers came in the darkness of night, and as my dad told it, they could see the light of an inhaled cigarette from thousands of feet up. 

The point is, we all had a job and once our job was done, we’d scramble into our makeshift bunker until the All-Clear siren had blown.  There were no questions asked, we just did what we had to, didn’t matter where we were, what we were doing, or if we had been outside covered in dirt. Time was of the essence and we fulfilled our individual duties as a means to safeguard the collective.

The Chinese have the Oneness Mindset down to a fine science.  During a crisis they pull together to get the job done.  Individual needs are put aside for the greater need of society as a whole.

In his paper, Yan Fu and the Translation of Individualism in Modern China, Max Ko-wu Huang states that,  “The Chinese, Yan Fu argued, placed emphasis on shared value standards, customs, and behavior (yidao tongfeng 一道同風) and on the treatment of others (dairen ji wu 待人及物). Western people, on the other hand, emphasized an essential self in their interpersonal relations and affirmed both the subjectivity and the realization of this self.”  It continues with, “The realization of the self would itself bring into being the ideal community.”

If you’ve seen the video from China’s Global Times, you’ll see a drone following people who aren’t wearing masks, asking them to put their masks on and go home. If you watch the video until the end you’ll notice the final comment, “Staying at home is contributing to society.”

This statement summarizes the Chinese mindset, that individual rights must be sacrificed for societal rights.  It is for this reason that great feats are possible. 

When the team pulls together towards a common goal much can be accomplished.

Now imagine a world where countries share data, technology and innovations openly as a means to solve global and local problems.  What if we are fighting a greater enemy like a global pandemic?  Or an extraterrestrial invasion?  Would our actions not consider the collective first?  A need to protect our planet and humanity?  How would it work out if we all moved in different directions planning only for our own individual needs? 

The possibility of success at the individual level as well as collectively is far greater if we adopt the oneness mindset.  A collective unified thought process that enables us to meet a common goal.  This is the main reason China is able to build a hospital in 10 days.

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