When the COVID pandemic made its way to America in early 2020, it quickly wreaked havoc on people and industries alike. Seemingly over- night, hospitals were nearing capacity and facing increasing surges of new patients every day. As cases continued to rise, construction and healthcare professionals banded together to build alternative care facilities that would accommodate COVID-19 patients and relieve the burden on hospitals. NewYork state was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to initiate a project that would convert the Westchester County Center, a 5,000-seat multi-purpose arena, into a COVID-19 Alternate Care Facility (ACF) and bring 110 additional Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to the region. Haugland Group, a New York-based construction company specializ- ing in energy and civil infrastructure projects, was given just 21 days to complete the project. “Our ultimate goal was to help people during this time of crisis, and we were proud to take part in the global fight against COVID-19,” said Billy Haugland, co-president of Haugland Group. “The project was extremely fast-paced. We received the call from the Army Corp of Engineers late Wednesday night and by Friday night, we had all hands-on deck.” A Significant Undertaking with a Daunting Deadline Haugland Group mobilized and assembled a team of industry experts including designers, engineers, suppliers, and technical project manag- ers. The team got straight to work performing preliminary assessments, contacting subcontractors and provisioning materials. Lead times for materials and work tasks that would normally take weeks were con- densed to days. “Equipment was hard to come by,” said Kevin Hansen, project manager for Haugland group. “Because many manufactur- ing plants were closed, we had to source equipment from companies throughout the country.” The ACF was housed inside the Westchester County Center and across four tents located in the parking lot. Each of the 110 ICU rooms had to include pressure monitoring systems to ensure negative air pressure and minimize further transmission of the virus, nurse call stations for providing feedback to master stations, building automation control, fire sprinkler systems, and electrical and backup power systems. Challenge Accepted: Haugland Group Constructs a 110-Bed Alternative Care Facility for COVID Patients in Just 21 Days By Jenn Said
Interior of one of the four tent facilities.
Two weeks into construction, a medical gas supply system needed to provide oxygen necessary for ventilators was added to the contract. The addition required workers to install four large oxygen tanks, along with distribution piping and monitoring systems into each patient room. “This was a big change order that caused us to backtrack while also moving forward at full speed,” said Hansen. Ensuring Worker Safety At the time, doctors and researchers were still learning about the full effects of COVID-19, and health recommendations were frequently changing. In addition to threatening the safety and health of workers, any outbreak among the crew would jeopardize the entire project. “Completing a project in this timeframe under normal circumstances would be challenging, but in this case, we also had to protect workers from the very real hazard of COVID-19,” said Haugland Group Safety Manager, Matt Murphy. Frequent temperature checks were implemented and workers were encouraged to speak up if they weren’t feeling well. Common areas were cleaned and sanitized daily, hand washing sinks, and hand sani-
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