Projects Require Minimal Disruption By Contractors
In the construction business, the old adage is you can usually find a job site by following the dusty footprints from the parking lot to where the men are working. However, with tenant improvements for medical facilities that should never be the case.
Rather, the job site has to be as inconspicuous as possible. Contractors have to provide an extraordinary amount of attention to cleanliness and a commitment to completing the project on time with a minimum amount of disruption to the medical facilities, their patients, customers and staff.
Today’s medical tenant improvement contractor needs to have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of medical facilities, including acute care, hospitals, biomed/biotech, cleanrooms and laboratories. The contractor needs to stay focused on the needs of their clients, because they operate in a particularly sensitive environment and they have to have certain things accomplished to be successful at what they are doing.
A contractor needs to take the specific client requirements and work them into how they are going to handle each medical tenant improvement. This will ensure that the contractor has as little impact as possible on the medical facility, making the patients’ stay during this disruption as pleasant as possible.
A medical tenant improvement contractor needs to understand first and foremost that medical customers require a much greater level of sensitivity toward such factors as the visual impact of the project on their user groups, the high level of cleanliness during the project and timeliness of completion.
For example, you don’t want clients or their patients to be able to find the construction site. That means no footprints, no dirt and debris, and that any noise is phased in compliance with the customers’ operations, so as to have little or no impact on the medical facility.
A contractor can do that in several ways. Rather than just putting up construction site barricades made of plywood or sheet rock, a medical tenant improvement contractor should try to go the extra mile to ensure that the project has little or no visual impact on the staff and patients.
One solution is to use a de-mountable, vinyl-covered sheet rock partitions that serve to control sound and dust, while at the same time closely matching the existing wall finishes in the hospital.
In addition, the scheduling of a medical tenant improvement can also be an effective way to mitigate any negative impact that a project will have on a medical facility. A contractor should be prepared to build in some flexibility into project scheduling, even though they might not be required to do so. That includes scheduling work during nights, weekends and shift changes. You really need to take into consideration how the job will impact the clients, and devise scheduling strategies to accommodate those needs.
Another key factor to completing a medical improvement project is to have good communication between the contractor and the client. In the very beginning, you need to identify who your points of contact are with the medical facility, and they need to be kept informed during the project.
The project should be a team effort with involvement and meetings that include the contractor, owner, end-user and the Office of State Health and Planning Department.
The most important aspect of a medical tenant improvement project is a contractor’s attention to job site cleanliness and infection control.
– Site Should Be Left
Clean When Done
Contractors need to be concerned not only with what they can see, but with what they can’t see, including airborne spores, viruses and contaminants. All work areas need to be effectively isolated or enveloped. They must contain negative air pressure, and exhaust air must be filtered through hepafilters, which remove more than 97 percent of the contaminants produced on the job site.
The challenge is to control the airflow in and out of the job site. A contractor should take baseline readings to monitor dust and aspergillus counts at the beginning of the project. These readings should continue to be monitored as the job progresses to assess any impact the job site has on the medical facility. This is one of the most effective ways to determine if the job site is clean.
A contractor should take additional precautionary measures like using tack mats, which remove dust and dirt from shoes to reduce the possibility of contamination.
The contractor should also conduct constant cleaning procedures during the project, not just cleaning up once when the project is completed. In high traffic areas, such as a hallway in a hospital or acute care center, a contractor should be using mobile containment units, which can be relocated out of the way if patients need to be brought through quickly during a emergency.
The goal for any contractor should be to leave the site cleaner than when they started the project.
Finally, a medical contractor should have an in-depth knowledge of the OSHPD code requirements, which establishes rules for construction compliance for hospitals. A contractor can save a tremendous amount of time, effort and impact to the client if they have a complete understanding of the OSPHPD requirements.
Blair is project manager for Pacific Interior Systems’ Medical Services Division, which specializes in the construction of medical facilities.