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Behind the Scenes: Building an ER in West Virginia

Wed March 01, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Tondrea Davis-Powell

Although it lacked the melodrama of a popular television program, the stars of the “show” were just as adamant about their listing in the “credits.”

“You be sure and call us ironworkers,” one of the men said.

The first piece of steel, in the construction of a new emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston, WV, was erected in late January despite snow and bitterly cold weather.

While what was falling from the sky did little to hamper construction, what was underground kept crews busy for three weeks. “We discovered contaminated soil from old oil tanks that were buried underneath,” said Chip Glazier, project manager for Beers Construction Company of Atlanta, GA. Beers has been named the construction manager of the project. “We had to remove about 2,000 tons of soil and replace it with clean soil.” Glazier estimates that they had to haul in approximately 549 meters (600 yds.) of fill dirt.

Construction of the 1,672-square-meter (18,000 sq. ft.) addition began in October 1999 and is scheduled for completion in September 2000. Thus far 28 subcontractors are slated to work on the $8.5-million, one-story building. They include: Thomas Miller and Partners of Brentwood, TN, as the architect; Allen’s Scrap Service Inc. of Charleston, WV, who is responsible for demolition; Sycamore Landfill of Hurricane, WV; Grout Systems of Wadsworth, OH, who handles the piles; Earth Tech of Charleston, WV, did the site remediation; William W. Smith Excavating of South Charleston, WV; Environmental Management of Nitro, WV, will handle the site work and landscape; BBL Carlton LLC of Charleston, WV, was contracted for concrete; Nucon Inc. of Barboursville, WV, was contracted for masonry; West Virginia Steel Corp. of Charleston, WV; New River of Fort Lauderdale, FL, was hired for millwork; Kal Kreuth Roofing of Wheeling, WV; and ABG Caulking of Goodlettsville, TN.

Much of the equipment used thus far in the construction of the emergency room has been rented from local suppliers. Sunbelt Rentals of Charleston, WV, will be a major supplier. Joe Spratt, sales representative for Sunbelt, said it has become cheaper to rent the equipment not only when working on smaller projects, but on most projects in general. “We just have some small stuff over there so far because the project isn’t going full blast,” Spratt said. “We anticipate that it will pick up within the next few months.” Some of the equipment Sunbelt has or intends to rent for work on the site include: two Ingersoll-Rand air compressors; several Amida light towers; Greenlee pipe benders; and eight to 10 Genie and/or JLG scissor lifts, among other things.

In addition to rental equipment, many of the subcontractors have brought in their own machinery. One such subcontractor is West Virginia Steel Corp. Ten to 12 of the approximately 30 workers on the project are from West Virginia Steel. The company foresees as many as 30 of its employees on the site before completion. The 67-year-old Charleston, WV-based company will supply its own 45-metric-ton (50 ton) Lorain hydraulic crane. Tim Harrison, the company’s project manager, estimates that about 108 metric tons (120 tons) of steel will be used during construction.

Don Simmons, project manager for BBL Carlton LLC, said that his company will supply about 612 cubic meters (800 cu. yds.) of concrete. “We’ve got all the footing, pile caps and grade beams done,” Simmons said. “We’re working on the concrete walls now.” BBL Carlton LLC has a shifting number of employees on the site varying from five to 15.

Daniel J. Lauffer, CEO of Saint Francis Hospital, said the funding for the project came solely from its parent company, Columbia HCA. To attain the money necessary for construction, the hospital had to submit a capital building expansion request. “Columbia HCA has funds allocated for projects throughout the company which could have gone anywhere,” Lauffer said. “We’re fortunate that some of the money came here.” Lauffer said the emergency room at Saint Francis has come a long way. The previous ER was located in an old Pontiac dealership. The new one will see an increase in beds from nine to 12, and will include two trauma rooms and 10 medical surgical treatment areas.

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