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Principality Stadium becomes the ‘Dragon’s Heart’ hospital

Stadium turned hospital: Principality Stadium has turned its attention away from rugby and towards Covid-19 patients as the pandemic intensifies. Source: Eirian Evans (via Geograph)

By Zoe Kramer

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium is being converted to a hospital in order to treat increasing numbers of patients in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, or Dragon’s Heart Hospital, is expected to hold 2,000 beds, making it the second biggest hospital in the UK behind London’s Nightingale Hospital. So far, 650 people have been employed either for the hospital, or to replace those medical staff moving to the hospital. At full capacity, the hospital is expected to employ 2,500 members of staff.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board launched an online survey to allow members of the community to name the new hospital. Some proposed names were Ysbyty Calon Lân, which would have linked the new hospital to the Welsh song Calon Lân, a traditional song now associated with the Welsh rugby union.

Other suggestions included Ysbyty Gobaith which translate into ‘Hope Hospital’, or Ysbyty Frances Hoggan in memory of Wales’ first registered female doctor.

The name Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig was chosen to symbolise the legend of the red dragon, the symbol of Wales.

Len Richards, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s chief executive, spoke to BBC Wales, saying “It’s really important for us to increase our bed base so that we have places where we can put patients, and care for them properly, and this is a fantastic development in that regard.”

“It is a very difficult challenge, and it’s been planned at breakneck speed, we started to plan this 12 days ago and we aim to open our first beds on Sunday,” Richards added.

The hospital intends to care for Covid-19 patients who are expected to recover from the illness but are not yet ready to return home. The aim is to relieve stress on regular hospitals whose focus needs to be on patients in critical condition. Medical staff will range from doctors to senior consultants to physical therapists.

The hospital was operational within two weeks, a process that would normally take up to two years. It opened on April 11, initially opening with 300 of the 2,000 beds available. 

Part of the preparations include the construction of large tents to control the temperature inside the stadium, as well as replacing the turf with flooring. The effort has involved 5000 hours of planning, and work by approximately 650 contractors as well as members of the armed forces.

Every part of the stadium has been accounted for, including dressing rooms which will be converted to staff offices. Additionally, local businesses have joined the fight. The Hensol Castle Distillery has begun manufacturing hand sanitizer, and food for the patients will be provided by a nearby hotel.

The hospital is expected to be open for around three months, but this timeline could change depending on how the Covid-19 pandemic develops. 

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