IDEA: Flat-pack hospital bed frame

Given current events, I wonder if needy facilities would accept a donated flat-pack hospital bed frame carved from plywood and coated in marine paint or something that could be wiped. I am not experienced in designing flat-pack furniture, but if this could turn into a usable donation and a collaborated design were to materialize, I would be all in on making beds for use in local emergency temporary hospitals.

I have asked a University of Washington Public Health staff member, who showed interest and is asking Washington state if this need will arise. Is there interest in the community to start putting together a design early, should this becomes a rapid need in the coming weeks?

Ideas and succinct features are welcome, but it’s got to be fast to build and fail-proof. Maslow is not exactly fast, so it should focus on laying down tab/slot/curve type cuts, and then leave strategic marks to indicate long rips and easily tolerant cuts for post-processing with a circular saw and jigsaw.


  • –fill in further on consulting medical professionals–
  • –please no solutions here - only requirements–
  • Parametric mattress dimensions
  • Support patient in lying and sitting positions up to NNN kg
  • Patient-facing surfaces should be smooth wherever possible for easier wiping
  • Hinged upper section beneath mattress to lift up patient’s head and torso (manually, keep it simple)
  • Can relocate with patient on bed, without requiring to install expensive or hard to find wheels
  • Removable side rails (seems infeasible but we can try)
  • Least amount of hardware possible
  • Nurse feedback accommodations such as an equipment shelf/pocket or hanger slots for hoses/wires
  • Minimal to zero tool head changes and stick to most widely used tools
  • List item
  • List Item

For bedframe mobility, I was thinking if the frame base load-bearing parts can be positioned to accept a standard pallet jack from the side and maybe from the end then it could still be moved (more slowly than a gurney though). Wheels are not precluded but they add a whole new dimension to cost, sourcing and frame durability.

Two interesting ideas for raising patient’s head, one requires simple hinges and the other uses a piano hinge for some reason:

Here is what the national guard put in their pop up hospital in NYC
I think we can interpret requirements from that.

Thanks for the photo. That field deployable bed is pretty basic. Do you know if this pop up hospital is intended to take a respiratory-type patient population, or is instead taking displaced/overflow patients for other issues to make more room in the regular hospitals for respiratory patients?

If this flat-pack bed effort kicks off and the bed has to accommodate a respiratory intubation patient, my ER RN friend says such a bed needs to have adequate tie down strap points to keep the hoses and wires in place on the patient, and the sometimes disoriented patient in the bed. Adjustable head tilt is imperative.

I didn’t hear back from my contact, but I did hear from another person that the FEMA metal cots are plentiful, so this effort will likely not be needed. Thanks anyway to those who watched and considered the idea.

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