Monday, September 8, 2014

The next level in patient care

Rapid progress is being made at Cox South where the final floors of the new patient tower are ascending skyward, the next step in the journey toward the facility’s opening in May 2015.

Rod Schaffer, vice president of facilities management, says the construction is on pace for the building’s frame to be complete this month. A “topping out” celebration, which marks the placement of the last beam on a new structure, is scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25.

“Our plans are to use a precast concrete beam that staff members will be able to sign,” Schaffer says. The beam will be available for signing beginning Monday, Sept. 22, in the northwest corner of the construction site. The final beam will be placed on the upper northwest corner, visible from Primrose Avenue. “We’ll raise it with the traditional symbolic evergreen tree, along with our CoxHealth banner and the American flag.”

In the meantime, the ground, first and second floors are almost completely framed out, with mechanical systems in place. Exterior insulation – the green panels visible from the parking lot – is being put in place on the first and second floors. Up top, concrete pouring continues at a rate of one-third of each floor per week. Concrete pouring is expected to be finished at the end of September.

Work will begin soon on upgrading the facade of the current tower. The goal is to create a unified appearance between the existing hospital and the new addition.

Even when the outside is complete, work will continue on the final details of the interior design. Employees who will work in the tower have already had a chance to visit mock-ups of patient rooms.

“It’s been very reassuring for staff members to get to test drive the rooms inside the mock-ups,” Schaffer says, pointing out that light levels in the rooms and the size and positioning of computer workstations have both been altered based on feedback. “The mock-ups give you a feel for the rooms, and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s easier to change it at this stage rather than later.”

Schaffer has also been leading construction tours and he says the excitement is palpable when visitors walk through the structure.

“People are surprised to see the magnitude of the facility. You can show the blueprints and explain that it’s similar to the square footage of the existing tower, but people don’t realize the full extent of it until they’re inside.”