If you’ve ever lived in an apartment building, you know how annoying noisy neighbors can be. Now imagine performing surgery, or just trying to get some shut-eye while those neighbors are doing construction.
Construction is an everyday occurrence at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. And thanks to careful planning, communication and cooperation among the hospital team and the KA Construction team, nobody loses any sleep over it.
Part of the HealthPartners family of care, Regions Hospital retains Kraus-Anderson Construction Company as their on-site construction manager at the hospital campus as well as their clinics in St. Paul and surrounding communities extending into western Wisconsin. KA has been on site since 2007.
From 60 to 100 construction workers are on the job at Regions Hospital on any given day, according to project superintendent Matt Olson. KA performs 50 to 75 projects a year ranging from minor painting and recarpeting to major hospital expansions and renovations. Working with Regions project manager Brian Palmer, the construction team works in close proximity to ongoing hospital operations by successfully addressing infection prevention, noise, dust, vibration and other potential disruptions.
Every project comes with its own unique considerations and sensitivities. For example, KA recently completed a four-month renovation of a 576 SF electro physiology lab on the second floor of Regions. Three operating rooms are in the immediate vicinity of the lab. One is on the other side of the wall. Directly above the lab is the sleep studies program of Gillette Hospital.
“Controlling the noise factor was our biggest challenge on this project,” said KA Project Manager Rachael Oelke.
The project required the installation of a metal support system to accommodate heavy-duty equipment tracks along the ceiling. The ceiling holds about 5,000 pounds of equipment, including a 2,387-lb. Poly G Stand; a 600-lb., 56-inch LCD monitor, a half-ton power boom, a 700-lb. Zero Gravity Contour track; and about 1,600 lbs. of radiation protection shielding. Basically imagine what it would take to hang two good-sized SUV’s hanging from a ceiling, and you’ll understand the magnitude of what the ceiling has to take on.
Noisy but necessary activities like hammer drilling were scheduled at times when the affected areas weren’t in use. “We worked within Regions’ time frame,” said Rachael.
Other logistical feats include retrofitting existing spaces to accommodate highways of ductwork, utilities and medical gas lines. Creating the utilities infrastructure requires a lot of trades expertise working in close quarters, often at the same time. “It gets interesting when there are 20 people in a 20 x 20 room,” said Matt.
Moreover, not every complex project involves high-tech medical equipment. On the horizon is a complete remodel of the cafeteria, which will be performed in 13 phases over the next two years in order to maintain the facility’s vital food service operations. Other upcoming projects at Regions include ongoing work on the new Cancer Center; and a new pathology lab. As the busy hospital team carries out its daily operations, the construction team will be working alongside them. Not that you’d notice.