On January 31, 2020, we submitted our proposal to construct a new 12,548 square foot facility for Lima Memorial Hospital in Wapakoneta. Little did we know we were about to be thrust into a global pandemic within a month of breaking ground for this new medical facility.
After several rounds of post-bid qualifications, H.A. Dorsten was selected as the contractor of choice and turned this vision into a reality. Sitework started in the first week of March 2020. Around this same time, those deemed to be mission essential were settling into their makeshift home offices, and this project was no different.
For nearly the first two months, our project manager overseeing this project managed all construction aspects from home. His new makeshift home office offered his wife and five children a unique opportunity to see a commercial construction project manager’s day-to-day dealings as he supported our superintendent. This superintendent was out in the trenches of the field, keeping up with a fast-tracked schedule. They both worked meticulously to perform daily duties while navigating the state-delivered COVID-19 protocols that seemed to change daily.
Less than one month after mobilizing, we received the first change order when we encountered unsuitable soils. This would be the first change order out of thirty-one from the owner and architect over this project. All thirty-one change orders totaled nearly $102,000 in added work and added zero days to our already tight schedule. Our project team expertly navigated and scheduled the added work to complete this project by its original completion date.
A global pandemic and continuous changes to our contracted scope of work weren’t our only obstacles to successfully completing this beautiful facility. Within the first eight weeks of construction, we had lost twelve workdays to the spring weather. Along with weather days, the framer we had lined up for exterior walls and trusses told us he was too busy and backed out of the job. With foundation walls being poured, this left our team asking themselves, “What’s next?”
With no framer now on board, this project was at risk of coming to a standstill. Our project team reacted quickly, and our field crew panelized all exterior wood walls at our warehouse while the foundation and slab were being finished.
The 12,548 square foot concrete slab was poured in a single pour. The exterior walls were loaded up on our trailers in Minster, transported nearly 30 miles to the project site, and set in less than five days. Our framer woes didn’t end with the walls—engineered wood trusses were next on the list.
This project’s wood truss configuration is one of the most complex layouts our field crew has ever faced. One look at the photo to the left, and you will understand why. Our project manager and superintendent worked closely with the truss manufacturer, with all three even convening on site for several hours to work through this roof’s complexities. Though highly complex, this roofline creates a unique feature. With this new facility located on the corner of a busy intersection, there is not one angle that doesn’t look amazing.
Our crews set over fifty-five welded hollow metal door frames as they were chased by teams framing interior metal stud walls with only three months remaining until our contractual finish date. Crews quickly hung drywall on the bottom side of the wood trusses and metal stud walls, drywall finishers were chasing the drywall hangers, and the painters were chasing both. The finish coat of paint went on the walls with less than four weeks until the finish date. The casework installers chased the painters, and the flooring installers chased everyone.
Exterior crews were working simultaneously along with the interior finishes. Finishing connections were made to site utilities, and the detention basin was formed. H.A. Dorsten crews formed, placed, and finished all exterior concrete paving, with a curb former taking care of the perimeter parking.
A last-minute change order incorporated a heavy-duty concrete pad to the west of the facility for a mobile MRI unit, and then the asphalt trucks started rolling in. Asphalt paving and striping were completed within three days and was wrapping up while our crew was completing finishing touches on the interior as they hung pre-finished wood doors.
The icing on the cake for this project was a squirrel, which we kindly refer to as Harry. Harry took an interest in the asphalt paving equipment and found himself rolled into the asphalt under the front-drive canopy.
A bubble formed under the asphalt a few days after Harry met his demise. No one on the crew was aware of Harry or his infatuation with the heavy asphalt paving equipment. Upon investigation, a bloated Harry was discovered within the asphalt. Harry was laid to rest elsewhere, the asphalt was patched, the interior flooring was finished, and our job was complete.
We were given only eight months in the middle of a global pandemic to finish a 12,548 square foot facility with a large amount of site work. The odds were stacked against us, but we persevered. Our project team possessed the professional competence to know what to do, the fortitude to execute how to do it, and the dynamic leadership to inspire others to accomplish it. To top it all off, we were able to relocate several boulders that were unearthed during foundation excavation activities into the final landscaping.
The final product is awe-inspiring and is something that has brought immense pride to K4 Architecture & Design, Lima Memorial Physicians, and H.A. Dorsten. Rightly so, this project won in the regional Healthcare Under $10 Million category, and H.A. Dorsten was presented with an Award of Excellence by the Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in June 2021.