A Community Hospital Lives on in Brighton

"We wanted a local firm that was committed to our project, experienced in healthcare construction and involved not only in our day-to-day project needs, but also in our community. Gerald H. Phipps was the right firm." -PVMC CFO Harold Duper

A Look Back at The Construction of Platte Valley Medical Center

GH Phipps (AGC ACE Awards Submission 2007)– Brighton is an agricultural community along the growing northeast Denver corridor. The city’s hospital was built in 1960 and was one of only a few community-owned hospitals remaining in the state. But surrounded by development, there was no room for expansion. Faced with a need for more capacity and leading-edge services, the decision was made to build a new hospital three times larger than its predecessor—a hospital that would utilize the latest technologies with the traditional, personalized care the families of the area had enjoyed for generations. The new Platte Valley Medical Center (PVMC) was conceived. Choosing the right company to handle its construction was critical.

“Our selection process focused on three essential factors,” said PVMC Chief Financial Officer Harold Duper. “We wanted a local firm that was committed to our project, experienced in healthcare construction and involved not only in our day-to-day project needs, but also in our community. Gerald H. Phipps was the right firm.”

Today’s trend in medical care is toward hospitals becoming part of large national healthcare systems in order to compete. But for Brighton and neighboring small communities, maintaining independence is a matter of local pride. Without the substantial financial backing of a bigger system, money for the hospital had to come primarily from tax-exempt bonds, reserve funds and a community fund-raising campaign. Phipps’ expertise could help with this.

During the pre-construction phase of the project, Phipps played a key role in helping the community reach its goal, accompanying PVMC representatives in meetings with Washington, D.C. officials, to detail construction scenarios and streamline an approval process necessary to fast-track the project under a new HUD 242 Healthcare Facilities Program. This program is designed to assist smaller communities with hospital construction. The PVMC project, with Phipps participation, was the first hospital in the nation to fully comply with the HUD 242 program and serves as a model for future fast-track hospital construction where scheduling and construction economy are keys to success.

The new, $138 million, 287,000-square-foot Platte Valley Medical Center is situated on a 50-acre site in Brighton’s Bromley Park. The campus is comprised of three 3-story buildings: a 78-bed patient tower, a diagnostics and treatment (D&T) building, and a medical office building. There is also a separate central plant building. The construction schedule called for completion in just 25 months (with one of Colorado’s worst winters thrown in for

good measure) with a fixed patient transfer and opening and date of July 10, 2007. Phipps focused on three objectives: (1) Build a campus that reflects the look and feel of the local area; (2) Incorporate leading edge technologies; and (3) Provide for future expansions with little or no impact on hospital operations.

A Fitting Addition to the Brighton Community—PVMC is designed and built to reflect the local environment—inside and out. Phipps worked closely with architects and subcontractors to blend indigenous materials and colors to create a stunning structure that fits seamlessly into its surroundings. Exterior stone, brick, stucco and stainless steel are designed around a palette of Colorado colors. Native perennials and grasses in the landscaping and healing gardens complete the effect. Even the roof system is creatively designed and built to resemble surrounding farmland patterns. The theme carries into the interior where materials and colors bring the outdoors in. The main lobby atrium features a 3-sided, 3-story stone fireplace. A wall of windows provides a spectacular view of the Front Range—a healing quality in itself. The top of an 80-foot stainless steel spire near the lobby entrance, representing a mountain rising out of the land, glows with a comforting light to surrounding communities, giving PVMC a unique identity.

Cutting Edge Technologies—Equipment and systems at PVMC are strictly state-of-the-art.

  • PVMC offers one of the highest combined levels of MRI and CT imaging in the world. It is the first U.S. hospital to install Toshiba’s 64-slice CT scanner and serves as a demonstration site for the equipment. The installation required last-minute mechanical upgrades as well as modifications in construction and shielding for exam rooms.
  • PVMC is one of three hospitals in the world with a facility-wide wireless system, providing real-time access to patient data and health records, regardless of the location of the patient, physician or other staff member.
  • PVMC offers Colorado’s only Level II Special Care Nursery with in-room overnight family accommodations.

Challenges and Problem-Solving—PVMC came with a good measure of challenges for the Phipps team.

  • Serpentine architecture and seven separate radiuses required complex, segmented construction processes both inside and out. Structural steel, stone, woodwork, ceiling panels, drywall, glass and other components had to be carefully engineered and installed to reflect the architect’s vision and match the intricate curvilinear design.
  • Through its Clean Air Protocol, Phipps paid special attention to installations of plumbing and air handling systems as part of an overall Infection Control Program. For example, all ductwork was wrapped during delivery and installation and then camera inspected to ensure cleanliness, sterility, and safety for patients and staff.
  • A basement was added early on. With groundwater two feet above the basement floor, a membrane and dewatering system had to be installed. Then, late in the project, a million-dollar Cath Lab was added. Both of these significant additions were incorporated seamlessly and the project was actually completed 1 month early!

Sustainable Construction—The facility was built along energy and environmentally-conscious guidelines. Although LEED principles for a sustainable building were included in the design and construction of the facility, LEED fee and administration costs were able to be redirected into the hospital itself.

Future Expansion Built In—The design and construction of the PVMC campus allows for expansion as the region continues to grow. Three stories and 222 beds can be added on without interrupting hospital functions. The remote central plant was built to handle HVAC requirements for the additional space and necessary elevator pits are in place.

A Coordinated Effort—The PVMC project team was complex and included two architects, three owner reps, seven key consultants, and numerous subcontractors. Phipps issued a Special Conditions Book, hundreds of pages long and unique to PVMC, to all members of the team and referred to it for coordination in weekly meetings. This pre-planning document and process insured that everyone was “on the same page” during every phase of the project.

Always Safety First—Phipps proprietary Healthcare Construction Training Program, required for every worker on site, worked again. At PVMC, it included several unique features. For example, temporary safety handrails used cast sleeves on the edge of concrete slabs instead of clamp-on devices to ensure safe movement. A special Phipps radio frequency was used for emergency communications and a Disaster Plan covered weather, fire, earthquake, bomb threat, and injury—and what to do in each case. By project end, there were no lost time accidents or injuries to report.

The Phipps team met every goal at PVMC: a time- and money-saving construction approval process through HUD’s 242 Program; a hospital that blends into the community; technology that is second to none; capability for expansion. PVMC wanted a general contractor that was “involved with our community.” And that’s what they got with Phipps.

Project Completion: April 2007

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