Long term relationships bear some of the sweetest fruit. For Skanska, we’re most effective when we can develop that deep level of trust and an understanding of our customers’ needs over an extended period, leading to projects that exceed not just the technical specifications of the job, but the personal aspirations of what a job well done really is.
Skanska has been engaged with Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, TX since 2002. We are currently working on the hospital’s most extensive upgrades to date – a $205 million set of construction projects that include a seven story children’s tower with its own power plant; an expansion of the adult and children’s emergency rooms; an expanded central tower for Women’s Health Care and critical care services; expanding the Neonatal ICU to 94 beds and a 13-story garage with three levels below grade.
Working at a hospital that serves a 27 county region and 175,000 ER patients every year, the main focus has been on having zero impact on patients and their medical care.
“Our biggest and most important challenge was staging – from entrances open to our work in close proximity to children’s and acute care areas,” said Project Executive Keith Sitzman. “We recognized early on that the best way to manage the process was with frequent meetings to discuss issues and propose solutions, then communicate to the people using the hospital what they could expect.”
Hospital COO Elizabeth Ortega says one weekly meeting grew into three – and took on the moniker of “Coffee Talks.”
“At first we just wanted to know about what kind of noise we could expect from the project, but it turned into a wonderfully collaborative way to address issues before they became problems,” she says. “In the end, it made us one big team instead of a customer and a construction company. I am very grateful for all that the Skanska team has done to make this project an ongoing success.”
“The complexity of the project is incredible; I’ve never worked like this before,” says Sitzman. “It is technically challenging work; making sure we manage every element of safety. We’re using heavy machinery on the other side of a wall where there are NICU babies who weigh no more than a pound. That makes you much more focused on who you’re building for.”
The staged work will see the NICU, Central Sterile and Supply, Same Day Surgery and the Children’s Emergency Department Expansion open this month. The Children’s Tower will follow in February of 2017. The entire facility is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
“What is designed on paper is often very cool, but the execution of it is a different story,” says Ms. Ortega. “The Skanska team had to figure out not just ‘how are we going to build that,’ but ‘how are we going to do it and not impact the care that goes on inside the hospital?’ You won’t find other contractors who will sit down and say ‘We get it, we need to make sure we keep things open.’ Those guys are my advocates in keeping our facility open and running.”
Ortega says many of the Skanska employees on the job have been there so long, they’re just as much part of the hospital family as they are Skanska.
“Some of them have hospital badges that are just as worn as their Skanska badges,” she says. “This has been a true partnership every step of the way.”