Bartlett remodel nears completion

Project's second phase slated to be finished by spring

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2007

In job-site lingo, it's referred to as "the bid-two remodel phase-one." Next spring, when the freshly remodeled 36,000 square-feet of hospital space reopens, it will be a respiratory therapy room, a gift shop, and physical therapy and surgical recovery rooms.

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For now, the new entrance and 900 square-foot lobby of Bartlett Regional Hospital is still a rough space of concrete forms and metal studs where framers work and crews put utilities in the walls and ceilings before the dry-wallers come to enclose it for painting and finish work.

When complete the space will host, among other facilities, 20 private rooms in a new medical surgical unit, a cardiology rehab center and a new chemotherapy infusion center.

The two-phase $43 million project has been underway almost continually since 2001. The project is funded by a combination of hospital revenue, the 1 percent sales tax initiative, bond sales and a few grants.

Lloyd Coogan, owner of Coogan Construction, said the end date is a moving target as the hospital calls for changes to the plans already underway.

Bartlett Construction Manager Bruce Hahnlen said the changes come with the fast-paced changes that naturally occur in the health-care field.

"We're 40 percent complete," he said.

Hahnlen finds the remodel work a challenge as crews work to convert the 1970s era space into a modern hospital within the tight and sometimes staff-occupied space.

At the moment, 40 to 50 people work six-day weeks to get the project done.

"There is a sense of urgency," Coogan said.

Carpenters, electricians, plumb- ers, painters, sprinkler-fitters and a sheetmetal crew fill out the work zone, taking daily and weekly queues from a two-foot by four-foot timetable graph. Later there will be more crews.

"We all want to finish as fast as possible," he said. "It's better for everyone involved."

Mechanical upgrades in the remodel phase are an interesting endeavor, Hahnlen said. New hospital construction is done with nearly five extra feet of space floor to ceiling. Coogan said there is an amazing amount of infrastructure above the ceiling panels in any hospital. This remodel gets the "works" into a smaller space.

Weekend work is spurred not only by the desire to complete the project, but also because sometimes there is no other option when working in a functioning hospital.

"Some work can only happen on weekends," Coogan said.

Over the weekend crews upgraded plumbing in an laboratory that ran on Friday and will return to normal use on Monday.

"The staff has been great when we open a new space or decommission one," Hahnlen said.

There is an always an additional effect on hospital operations. Hahnlen said the staff asked for guides to help people through the confusion created by the work-around. Work areas are fully isolated from the functioning hospital forming somewhat of a maze. Organizers hired the guides and it worked well, he said.

"We've often thought of working at night." Coogan said. "Bu t we can't do that because patients are sleeping."

To a degree, even the work zones are engineered. Negative-pressure airlocks separate the passages between construction areas and the working hospital in an effort to keep "dirty" air from "clean" air.

Throughout the winter, more supplies will come on the barges and work will go on in an effort to keep the schedule as the hospital continues to serve the healthcare needs of community.

Hahnlen explained an interesting project fact. You can only demand so much labor at an occupied facility, he said.

Like a patient after major surgery, "the building needs rest."

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