Working to deliver COVID-19 facilities in advance of an expected surge in patients testing positive for coronavirus, two Southeast-based contractors were able to complete their critical work ahead of already challenging schedules.

First, in Atlanta, Piedmont Healthcare began taking action in March. With Brasfield & Gorrie already targeting an ahead-of-schedule completion of its estimated $465-million Marcus Tower project by early May, Piedmont requested that the contractor further accelerate the project, said the contractor. Though Piedmont had planned to open the new hospital tower in August, the contractor and the rest of the project team were able to accommodate a partial opening on April 13 to make more intensive care unit beds available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the contractor, in response to Piedmont’s mid-March request, Brasfield & Gorrie made plans to complete construction by the end of March. At approximately the same time, CBRE procured equipment and furniture, while Brasfield & Gorrie assisted with installation and began working with architect HKS and the rest of the project team to expedite facility integration.

“We are grateful that we were able to meet this need in our community, particularly during such a crucial time,” said Michael Percy, senior project manager for Brasfield & Gorrie. “It’s always satisfying to build projects that affect other people’s lives, and in this case, the impact is particularly meaningful.”

The effort added three ICU and acute nursing units for a total of 132 additional beds, with 64 designated as ICU beds, Piedmont said. The units will be used for  COVID-19 positive and negative patients.

“By opening this part of the tower early, we are increasing capacity at a critical time when our community needs it the most,” said Patrick Battey, CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “Getting these beds ready for patients who may need them during the COVID-19 outbreak was the right thing to do, and I am proud of the staff at Piedmont and our partners on the project who made it happen.”

Mission Accomplished in Miami Beach
Working under a $22.5-million contract awarded on April 6 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Birmingham, Ala.-based Robins & Morton scrambled to beat an already aggressive two-week schedule to deliver a 450-bed COVID-19 field hospital inside the Miami Beach Convention Center’s exhibit hall. According to the contractor, the field hospital’s design—by Orlando-based RLF Architects—called for 400 acute-care patient rooms, 50 isolation rooms, nurses stations and support areas.

To transform more than 250,000 sq ft of the convention center’s exhibit-hall space into a functioning hospital, construction crews installed medical gas lines, ductwork, plumbing, electrical and data wiring and patient-room headwalls with patient communication, equipment and oxygen connections.

Though Robins & Morton reports that the project was originally scheduled for completion by April 27, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced at an April 8 press conference that the facility needed to be ready to receive patients by April 21. Even so, the contractor and its team of roughly 20 trade contractors—comprised of more than 250 people working around the clock in two shifts—were able to beat that date, opening the facility on April 20.

“Everybody had a sense of purpose,” said Johnathan Peavy, senior project manager with Robins & Morton. “It was pure synergy. We hit the ground running, and everything just clicked with the team.”

Added Scott Fote, RLF senior vice president: “The team’s motto was ‘Every minute is a life.’”