When LifePoint Hospitals acquired Clark Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in May 2010, a commitment of the deal was to build a replacement hospital to better serve the healthcare needs of Winchester, Kentucky, and its surrounding area.
Two years later, a $70 million, 79-bed facility answers that need. The new CRMC features a one-level design concept that works off of a central spine from which each department stems, private admission and exam rooms, a new Center for Women and Babies, and a 100% geothermal heating and cooling system.
While notable features of the hospital may be plentiful, the story behind its construction includes a team that relied upon the trust its members had for one another to push ahead—even when the project’s tight schedule went up against record-breaking weather conditions, greatly reducing the window built between substantial completion and occupancy milestones.
CRMC CEO Kathy Love says it was imperative that an aggressive timeline for the project be put into place to bring a conclusion as quickly as possible to begin serving the community. In the end, three Kentucky-based firms were selected to work toward that goal: Stengel Hill Architecture, Wehr Constructors Inc., and CMTA Consulting Engineers.
Beyond the tight schedule, Love says there were a number of desired needs that had to be met by the team, as well.
“In any project in today’s economic environment, you have to come up with ways to get your objectives met with not unlimited funds, and so we were looking for a very efficient and effective design that incorporated our need for growth and the latest technology into what is a private, serene environment,” she says.
Having worked together on previous projects, the familiarity team members had with one another was credited by Love as saving months of time from the outset.
“We had a running start from that perspective and these were people who knew our owner’s standards that are very specific, and we also had immediate trust in them right out of the gate to come up with some innovative ways to get this done quickly,” Love says.
Scott B. Smith, executive senior vice president at Wehr, says a unique component to how LifePoint runs its projects is bringing the contractor/construction manager on at the design/development stage. In the CRMC project, Wehr worked under a construction manager at-risk contract, consulting on the project months before ever turning a shovel of dirt.
“It allows us as the contractor to know upfront almost at the conception, decision-making point of what the owner wants, as well as what the design team wants,” he says, adding that the early involvement better prepared Wehr for components to prepare for, such as that geothermal system.
And it helped push through the schedule, as well, with Wehr helping develop documents in a sequence that allowed construction to start even before a majority of the design was completed.
“We were able to do things in conjunction with design intent to allow us to build the building as efficiently and as sequentially as possible,” Smith says.
Love also credits Wehr for forging through weather conditions well beyond the expected. “We had this commitment from our contractors that was second to none, and I mean through the wettest winter of Kentucky history—we had frozen ground we were trying to drill and blast; the site work was a miserable experience. They worked every weather hour—day or night, weekday or weekend—to get this done on time,” she says.
Another commitment on the project delivery came in the promised use of local subcontractors. Smith says Wehr guaranteed a minimum of 15% to 20% of the project labor would be brought from within a 50 mile radius of the facility, and ended up yielding 30%.