Building Healthcare

Healthcare Construction e-News

Helping Our Clients Achieve Better Outcomes

Side-by-Side Growth: Structures and Skilled Trades

Creating Jobs for Underemployed Community Members

Transforming healthcare services for the West Michigan lakeshore community, the new Mercy Health Muskegon 10-story medical center brought together all acute care services from the Mercy, Hackley and General campuses to one facility for full consolidation. In addition to the new 269-bed facility, the project also included a renovation of the existing hospital inpatient services, and construction of a new outpatient radiology, birth center and emergency department.  

With a focus on positively impacting the Muskegon community, the project team was able to exceed workforce diversity goals through successful community partnerships. Teamed with Mercy Health, the Urban League of West Michigan and West Michigan Works, Christman successfully implemented a job-ready initiative that created entry level positions and non-skilled labor jobs on the project. The program focused on creating work opportunities for marginalized individuals living in Muskegon and included job readiness training through our partners at Muskegon Community College, West Shore Community College, Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon ISD and the Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC). 

The intentional outreach to Muskegon residents was incredibly successful. Due to these efforts, the project reached a diverse workforce participation rate of over 34.5%, with 88 new jobs for minority workers, when the local standard for diversity participation is closer to 10%. Local participation accounted for 32%, as the program created 108 new jobs for Muskegon residents. The program was mutually beneficial as it created opportunities for individuals who would otherwise not be able to work, and it fed the pipeline of skilled trades workers that are in high demand. The program’s success can be credited to the commitment of Mercy Health and the committed group of partners.

“I’ve worked for more than 30 years in West Michigan, and the largest percentage of diverse workers I’ve seen on any project was 12 percent,” said Lon Morrisson, senior director, facility services and capital projects, Mercy Health Muskegon. "We are very pleased with the outcome of this effort. Throughout construction, the team remained committed to providing employment opportunities for as many underserved people as possible — making it possible for them to learn skills that would lead to long-term careers."

As work on the Mercy Health Muskegon consolidation project wraps up, Christman is able to look forward to the next opportunity to implement a similar job readiness program. Particularly in the time of COVID-19 and so many people in need of work, Christman teams recognize the importance of bringing jobs to the communities where they live and work. The best practices in Muskegon will be applied to other Christman job sites across the country. 

“There’s nothing better than constructing buildings with a purpose and a purposeful workforce,” says Amy Sullivan, Christman senior project manager. “Our team is grateful for the opportunity to engage the local community and support the growth of new talent and skills that will undoubtedly impact the future of these workers and their communities.”

Behavioral Health: The New Frontrunner in Specialized Healthcare

Studies show that there are more than 40 million Americans managing some form of mental health concern. Thankfully, the concerns surrounding the treatment of mental health are being heard now perhaps more than ever before. However, traditional hospitals are often ill-equipped to handle the growing, distinctive demands required to manage behavioral health clientele. Consequently, healthcare systems, medical professionals and government entities are working to meet this challenge head on and looking to the construction industry to aid by building facilities that specifically address the unique needs of this population.

Recent studies by the American Hospital Association show that behavioral health facilities and centers are the 2nd most common type of specialty hospital construction project. Today, clients want behavioral health facilities that are increasingly complex and highly secure but also warm, open and “non-institutional.” This is a far cry from the “psych hospitals” of the past, which were often state-funded and designed to confine those afflicted with mental health problems. For new facilities and building renovations, clients are now asking for patient-centric, safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

When constructing these facilities, builders must ensure that their work delivers what the client needs in terms of flexibility, durability and safety. Some of the specialty features in behavioral healthcare construction may include increased height ceilings made of drywall instead of acoustical tile, special sensors on doors and walls to detect excess weight and non-glass windows. This must all be achieved while still making the space look open, attractive and soothing.

How can this be accomplished? Early planning is the key to success. During the planning stage, the team must think through every scenario to ensure patient safety. This includes eliminating the possibility for patients to harm themselves, such as installing cover plates and fixtures with security fasteners and sealed with security sealants, anti-ligature hardware or pre-action fire protection systems with security heads. While these kinds of extra security measures are necessary, they can present a significant issue for construction if changes need to be made after design is complete and during the construction phase. 

On behavioral health projects, tools like BIM are essential. For example, on Christman’s project for Universal Health Services/Beaumont Behavioral Health in Dearborn, MI, a 3D virtual mockup was developed to allow the team to proactively locate all the devices that would need added security measures in the facility and to review the special layout required in order to ensure that no details were missed prior to the start of construction. 

Once construction starts, safety and security issues become even more critical. Working on an occupied site is a challenge for any healthcare project, but when it involves a behavioral health facility, a multifaceted approach during construction is often necessary. For the team working on Christman’s project at the Franklin Medical Center Behavioral Health Expansion for Duke Life Point Health in Louisburg, NC, this involved strict coordination of activities with the owner and constant oversight of certain construction activities for the duration of the project. One of these measures included constructing and then removing temporary provisions on a daily basis.

When these types of plans are made early in the construction process, they are less expensive to implement. This requires a more mindful approach to behavioral healthcare construction projects and what it takes to create healing, calming environments. 

Creating Efficiencies a Top Priority for a Texas Lab Consolidation Project

A clinical lab consolidation is often a solution for a healthcare system looking to improve efficiencies and positively impact patient care. However, undertaking a lab consolidation project takes precise planning and expert execution. The challenges surrounding this kind of project are exacerbated when working on an active campus, coupled with a surging global pandemic. 

But this was the exact situation that Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC), part of Baylor Scott & White Health, recently found itself in during its pathology lab consolidation project. The goal of the consolidation was to merge multiple lab departments currently located throughout the hospital campus into one central lab, while also eliminating waste associated with current inconveniences. Consolidating BUMC’s lab services into one location will allow for expanded testing technology and specialty testing, while accommodating a higher volume of patients and enhancing speed throughout the lab. 

Baylor University Medical Center is one of the largest centers for patient care, medical training and research in North Texas. The hospital has over 1,000 licensed beds and the Emergency Department (ED) is the second busiest ED in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with more than 100,000 visits annually. Creating a singular lab location for the expansive, active campus was a task the Christman team was well equipped to handle. It became apparent that completing the three phase project would take the utmost preparation and expertise to navigate the unforeseen, challenging environment. 

The initial phase of the consolidation laid the ground work for the rest of the transformative project by relocating multiple hospital departments to temporary locations throughout the campus, to free space on the first floor of the facility for the new lab. The new consolidated lab will include clinical pathology, biologically sensitive specimen processing, anatomic pathology, surgical grossing, tissue processing, a large walk-in refrigerator, and added pneumatic tube stations and revised tubes that branch throughout the hospital campus.

Phase two of the project encompassed the lab renovation itself, which included a build out of nearly 30,000 s. f. of floor space on the first floor of Roberts tower, and is located directly above the active Emergency Department, and directly below the operating rooms. The team had to quickly adapt to access changes through the ED due to the COVID-19 crisis without compromising the schedule. The previous first floor space was demolished back to a shell condition to allow for a completely new and updated finish-out. The second phase also included extensive roof top work two floors above the lab space. A new custom air handling unit dedicated to the lab was installed on the existing roof along with a dedicated exhaust fan and energy recovery unit. All piping from the first floor lab to and from the third floor roof was routed through two added exterior vertical chases on the outside of the building. 

All plumbing work for the lab was fed from the floor below in the occupied Emergency Department. Ongoing brief closures of areas throughout the ED were required for a period of more than six months to complete the tie-ins. Additionally, work throughout multiple existing mechanical and electrical rooms was required to tie in to existing systems. The Christman team collaborated with the health system’s leaders to coordinate multiple shutdowns with minimal disruptions throughout this time to complete this scope.

“The project has absolutely been a team effort, with Christman reaching out on a daily basis to schedule shutdowns well ahead of time, engaging all pertinent hospital departments for feedback or concerns, being flexible to hospital priorities and work times, and communicating with all hospital management, engineering, epidemiology, and safety teams on an hourly basis,” remarked Jim Terhune, Christman’s senior project manager on the project. “Collectively, we have maintained zero lost time accidents and zero public safety incidents throughout the project, and maintained the overall project schedule.”

The final phase will relocate the temporary offices created in phase one to their permanent home in the new lab. The end result of this lab consolidation project will result in many benefits for Baylor University Medical Center laboratory staff and patients, as well as create economic efficiencies for the healthcare system for years to come.

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