SALEM - In a rented warehouse just outside Salem, workers building the core of Salem Community Hospital's patient bed tower labor in the comfort of an enclosed space, not worried about the weather or the height.
"We can build an entire floor at one time," Skanska Project Superintendent David Magee said.
Not literally, of course, but the company in charge of the hospital project is building sections of each floor at the location they're calling the Prefab Warehouse, site of the former Rag Tooling on state Route 45, then transporting the finished products to the hospital site on East State Street where they're carefully put in place.
The prefab products include corridor racks, which include all the mechanicals hidden inside the ceiling of each hallway, bathroom pods consisting of the frame of two patient bathrooms back-to-back with the plumbing and electrical parts already in place and head walls patient beds will rest against with all the electrical parts installed.
According to Magee, the prefab process saves time, increases precision in the work by tradesmen and increases safety because workers aren't three stories or more above the ground while installing pipes, wires and other materials that end up hidden from view.
Work at the warehouse started in the middle of March and is expected to finish by the end of June.
Some of the bathroom pods are already in place at the patient bed tower.
"When they leave here, all the mechanicals are already roughed into the walls, including the electrical, the plumbing and the nurse call button," Magee said.
He explained there are depressions in the cement slab of each floor at the patient bed tower and each bathroom pod is rolled into place in the depressions.
The prefab process also helps cut down on material waste because everything is ordered to size and cuts down on space needed to store materials with two sites working at the same time. Magee said Skanska is a leader when it comes to prefab hospital construction, using the process for a 12-story heart tower in Dayton.
Each corridor rack will be installed in 20-foot sections, each 8 feet wide, and include the mechanicals that supply each room, including pipes for med gases (oxygen, filtered air and vacuum), the sprinkler system, the cable tray for data communication, electrical conduit feed, fire alarm, plumbing for hot and cold water, and duct work for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Six different trades can be working on a corridor rack at any one time, including plumbing, electrical, IT, fire protection, HVAC and mechanical piping.
All the pipes are marked and the hospital will have drawings, making it easier to find what's needed if there's a problem.
"Everything's planned for the future," SCH Director of Plant Operations Jerry Wheeler said.
Head walls for patient beds have also been constructed at the Prefab Warehouse, with all electrical supplies and mechanicals roughed in.
The head walls, bathroom pods and corridor racks travel to the hospital site via truck, with a 10,000-pound all-terrain forklift known as a lull lifting them to the appropriate floor to be put in place.
Wheeler said Skanska is doing a good job on the project and "everybody's staying safe."
"No injuries and the job's moving right along," he said.
Another process the company uses to ensure safety is the pledge for an injury-free environment.
"Every morning our workers have to participate in stretch and flex," Magee said.
Besides the exercises, he said every contractor is required to do a pre-task plan. Everybody on the job site lists what they're doing for the day, the hazards associated with the task and ways to mitigate injury on the job, he said.
Skanska Assistant Superintendent Corey Rose said they have more than 50,000 man hours on the project so far with no lost time injuries reported. The project is expected to be finished by Dec. 31, then hospital personnel will begin the task of supplying the rooms and cleaning to prepare for occupancy which is expected in early 2014.
SCH Director of Public Relations Michele Hoffmeister said the project has had a positive economic impact on the community. The warehouse is being rented from the property owner and the project has sparked interest in the warehouse from other businesses. Magee said they've tried to hire local contractors and supplies are coming from the local area also.
Skanska, headquartered in Sweden, has 38 offices in the United States and locations in 26 countries with 12,000 projects going on at any one time. The company has 60,000 employees and works in several areas, including health care, aviation, sports and a civil projects. The company built the new Jets/Giants stadium and worked on the new World Trade Center.
The patient bed tower started last year will include three floors dedicated to patient care and a two-story parking deck allowing for weather-free entry into the hospital from vehicle to lobby. A lobby concourse connecting the new tower with the main entrance will include a coffee kiosk and a gift shop.