PORTLAND, Ore. – Despite over a yearlong delay to start construction imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, JE Dunn successfully maximized opportunities to enhance client experience on the PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center 8th Floor Renovation project.
The original intent of the renovation was to update the medical-surgical unit to provide increased functionality and modify 16 double occupancy patient rooms to 20 single occupancy patient rooms. This involved a complete demolition and rebuild of the 8th floor and included renovations to interior finishes to achieve the desired modern aesthetic. However, the Department of Health had an increased need for space to treat patients at the height of the pandemic, so PeaceHealth opted to postpone construction for over a year. Rather than re-assigning the project team to an alternative job and risk compromising their developed understanding of the project and facility, JE Dunn worked to integrate as a partner within the facilities to help reduce the workload of an already overburdened PeaceHealth staff.
Tackling the Pandemic with PeaceHealth
Throughout the project delay, the JE Dunn team found a new purpose while partnering with PeaceHealth operations as they served the community and patients. Focused on being an indispensable business partner, JE Dunn assisted with any additional support the hospital needed to continue operations. The team completed several interim projects, including erecting field hospital tents, creating negative pressure rooms to isolate COVID treatment areas, assisting with preventative maintenance safety repairs to critical infrastructure, and managing the construction of a new office for the onsite facilities team. These honey do lists of projects were atypical yet proved to build trust with the client and engage with the hospital community. As a result, the PeaceHealth and JE Dunn team found that working alongside each other with a common purpose – the patients, helped to develop a healthy and cohesive partnership. When the state lifted restrictions to begin renovations on the 8th floor, the high-functioning team was able to turn over the newly completed floor two months early.
Ensuring Patient Safety During Construction
As the ‘ultimate customer,’ patient needs will always trump construction needs, displayed in the postponement of the 8th floor renovation to support the influx of patients due to the pandemic. When construction interrupts the dynamics of hospital operations, keeping the patients safe is of utmost importance. As a result, contractors working in and around active healthcare facilities face challenges accounting for the safety and comfort of patients when balancing schedule demands, requiring unique solutions to construction.
Minimizing impact to additional operations, JE Dunn utilized the HoleMole Core Hole Filling System. The HoleMole allowed the team to fill 280 existing holes in the concrete slab from above, avoiding the traditional disruption to hospital operations from going through the occupied floor below. This enabled the team to reduce patients’ exposure to construction and lessen coordination efforts with the nursing staff below, ultimately, expediting the schedule tremendously.
Standard for JE Dunn’s healthcare renovations, and now a requirement for PeaceHealth projects, is the use of Starc Wall Panels. These temporary construction barriers with pressure monitors limit renovation noise and maintain negative pressure to control the spread of dust during construction. The panels are a durable solution to eliminate the potential for healthcare-acquired infections in active hospital renovations and maintain the safety of patients, staff, and visitors.
Beginning with the End in Mind
JE Dunn engaged in a well-received mock-up workshop with the PeaceHealth facilities team beginning before the project delay. The team worked through over a dozen scenarios with various user groups, from moving a patient to the restroom, assisting someone with a hip fracture move within the space, and transferring patients between beds. Mock-ups were located in an onsite garage where JE Dunn was able to validate the design with nurses and doctors early and create certainty to maximize prefabrication. When the pandemic began and social distancing regulations were enforced, the team worked closely with hospital staff to break review sessions into like user groups, for example, separation between front line care givers and primary doctors.
Mock-ups are oftentimes viewed as too expensive, leading to uncertainty on the return on investment. However, JE Dunn’s quality efforts on the front end resulted in immense time and cost savings, identifying a complete reconfiguration of the headwall equipment, additions of more equipment, and increased room widths of 4-6” by shrinking the bathrooms, all prior to construction. The team reduced mock-up costs by creatively demonstrating the final room layout without a complete installation and instead, utilized cardboard and paper. The sessions prompted valuable discussion with hospital staff and aligned construction efforts with hospital needs early on. The team was empowered during the mock-up process when word of its success reached the c-suite level, including the hospital director, prompting them to join the workshop. The mock-ups immersed the entirety of hospital staff into the construction process, creating a united project team between JE Dunn and PeaceHealth.