Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cox South room refresh builds in-house pride

Our ‘refresh construction’ team brings innovative problem-solving to the task of making original Cox South rooms new again.

Take a look inside one of the renovated rooms on 500 West or 200 West at Cox South and you might easily mistake it for one of the rooms in the newly built West Tower.

Engineering’s “refresh construction” teams are currently working their way through the original hospital, giving the rooms a new look and new functionality that puts the original tower on the same level as the new construction. But the teams working on the refresh are building more than new rooms: They’re building pride and dedication that shows through in every step of the work.

Rather than completing the renovation through contractors, CoxHealth leaders decided early on to bring the work in-house. Supervisor Tony Hein says that decision has been a major win for Engineering, as teams put their expertise to work making an investment in CoxHealth’s future.

“This is not just a job, people take pride and ownership of what they’re doing for the hospital,” Hein says. “Everyone took this job because they wanted to make a difference and everyone works good together.”

The 10 members of the refresh construction team have all had input into the design of the rooms. They’ve brought their individual skill sets to the task of finding innovative solutions that bring the latest features to the renovated space.

For an obvious example of the team’s problem-solving prowess, look no further than the wood headwalls behind the bed in each patient room. Since the original tower’s rooms are a different size than those in the West Tower, the headwalls were going to have to be custom made.

Designing them to work around the placement of medical gasses in the original tower’s walls presented another challenge, as well as a variety of additional costs.

The team devised a solution: Purchase the raw materials and build the walls themselves. They gave it a try with formaldehyde-free medium-density fibreboard (MDF) that they’re cutting in the refresh construction shop and layering with Inpro, a high quality laminate that matches the walls in the West Tower. The entire process is a fraction of the cost of using custom-ordered walls.

Hein says the headwalls are just one of the ways a little ingenuity can produce a better result, all while building pride among the team.

“Contractors are fine, but I’m old school, from Cox North, where we used to do all this ourselves. It was your job and you felt good,” Hein says. “A person doing a job in-house, they take pride in what they’re doing. We’re getting a lot of that in-house pride back and people would be surprised how much we’re saving.”

Examples of the team’s innovations are everywhere in the new construction. In the restrooms, for example, the new design features a smooth floor that eliminates the “curb” that used to serve as the edge of the shower. Now, the floors simply slope into a drain. Even as they were installing the first of the shower floors, the team saw ways of perfecting the process.

“One guy said, ‘I can make just as good a floor with a different material,’” Hein says. “I said, ‘Let’s prove it and see.’”

Rather than their first approach, they tried a different concrete subfloor product, which was about one-tenth the cost of the initial material. It worked.

The team also looked at replacing the doors, before finding a way to simply re-skin them with the same Inpro laminate used for the headwalls. When all new windows and updated window shades are in place, the original tower’s rooms will be virtually indistinguishable from those in the West Tower.

“Customers, families and friends will be impressed,” Hein says. “This is about good customer service – when we get a happy customer, word of mouth goes a long way.”

Hein says the team loves the challenge and they like being able to make a lasting difference, for the hospital and the community.

“When employees take ownership, things will go better, our customers are more satisfied and you’ll see employees with smiles on their faces,” he says. “It keeps it positive and builds on the ‘Cox family’ feel. I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the team in this direction.”