Hospital Construction Progresses with an Eye on the Future and an Ear from the Past

The Replacement Naval Hospital project has reached many successful milestones and has vastly exceeded the Navy’s expectations on Safety, Quality, Schedule and Budget control. To date, the $455 Million construction project has achieved over 1.4 million man-hours of work with zero lost-time safety incidents; is currently four months ahead of schedule; has maintained state-of-the-art level of quality and has spent less than 1 percent of the project cost on unforeseen changes. What is the secret to such success on a high-value, high-risk project that employs 800-1000 workers simultaneously on a daily basis? The answer, for this team, was to look to the past.

“With the short timeframe of only four years allotted for programming, design and construction of such a large, complex project, we were forced to look to creative ways of accomplishing our task, while keeping up our four pillars of Safety, Quality, Timeliness and adherence to Budget constraints”, said Cmdr. Whit Robinson, Resident Officer In Charge of Construction (ROICC). “We established a program to continually monitor other hospitals under construction, interface with their teams, study their successes and learn where they could have improved. In essence, we are able to look in their rear view mirrors with them and use that information to charter an intelligent course for the completion of our project.”

Commander Robinson further stated that over 191 lessons learned were originally gleaned from 20 hospital visits across the country, including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD; the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, VA; Palomar Pomorado Hospital in Escondido, CA; University of California Hospital, Irvine, and the VA Hospital in Las Vegas, NV. The trips were planned around issues that were projected to arise on the Camp Pendleton project within the proximate 3-12 months, in an effort to effectively get ahead of issues before they became critical. Such visits were planned around Contract Development, Contractor Selection Process, Design Development, Construction Management, Contract Completion and Closeout, Facilities Turnover to Users, and Facilities Maintenance Planning and Training.

“By setting up sessions where we could learn from other hospital teams, we were able to take up where those teams left off and have enjoyed the successes of establishing both a teaching and learning organization for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, while building this landmark facility”, said Robinson. “Since those initial 191 comments, we have added over 300 more relevant practices and observations that may help the Navy become more efficient and provide better, safer construction in shorter amounts of time.”

The ROICC team plans on capturing all lessons learned from this project and electronically sharing them with the rest of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in an effort to let others learn from the project’s successes and failures.

The hospital is currently 70 percent complete with more than $275 million invoiced for construction. Since January 2012, the Clark-McCarthy Joint Venture construction team has installed an average of $1 million of construction every day. The hospital is scheduled for completion in Winter 2013/2014 and should be fully operational in Spring 2014.

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