Demanding Renovation

by Cheryl Mah

The Vancouver General Hospital Simulation Centre (VGH SIM) has a brand new space in the Blackmore Pavilion. Formerly known as the Centre of Excellence for Surgical Education and Innovation, VGH SIM is an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary academic centre and was relocated from its previous space to allow for more operating rooms at the hospital.

The brand new state-of-art space supports a wide range of simulation education for healthcare professionals and staff. Realistic and safe learning environments allow them to study, practice and develop skill sets to advance patient care.

Level two was completely renovated to accommodate the Simulation Centre along with various program offices and resident space. The centre consists of 12 rooms which include a lecture theatre, surgical cadaver lab, computer and skills lab, a dedicated high fidelity patient simulator room and eight multipurpose breakout rooms. It also has the capability to use videoconferencing, webcasting, and video debriefing to further enhance learning and skill development.

Renovations are inherently full of challenges, which are magnified when working in an operating hospital facility. But Black & McDonald Limited was up for the challenge

The mechanical contractor spent 10 months on the job, providing a complete mechanical installation including HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and medical gas. Black & McDonald was awarded the $2.5 million contract in October 2017 with substantial completion achieved in August 2018.

“We did the full fit out of that space. It’s the second largest project we did at VGH but it’s definitely the largest renovation we have done in B.C.,” says Kyle Wisniewski, division manager, construction at Black & McDonald.

The project required various systems including chilled water, domestic hot water, non-domestic hot water for the air handling units (AHUs), medical gas, full sanitary and venting modifications and steam serving the air handling units. Due to limited accessibility, the new air handling units had to be assembled by hand onsite in the mechanical room located on level four.

“We had to demo four existing air handling units and installed four new custom air handling units,” explains Wisniewski. “These are full knock-down units that come shipped in pallets. We had to build them from scratch on site. There was no way to crane in the new units. I believe these units by ClimateCraft are the first to be installed in the Lower Mainland.”

Black & McDonald also installed eight Armstrong Design Envelope 4380 Integral VFD pumps that serve the AHU cooling and heating coils.

“These are installed in the same rooms as the AHUs they serve,” says Wisniewski, adding the medical gas scope was quite large (Class 1 did the work) and included the S&I of a new Anaesthetic Gas Scavenging System (AGSS) and Lab Compressed Air systems.

The biggest challenge on this project was the amount of change orders issued right at the beginning. Demolition revealed that existing piping in the space had never been replaced so many of them were leaking and damaged.

“Right off the bat, we had a whole bunch of change orders issued – underneath and above ground change directives,” says Wisniewski. “We had approximately $275,000 of change orders to fix and repair the existing piping.”

He adds, “All this extra work had to be done in conjunction with all the rough in and renovation in the original contract – within the same schedule.”

Working in an existing and operating hospital facility required full coordination and collaboration with existing user groups, and especially the hospital facilities maintenance and operations (FMO) team.

“Lots of after hour work and all tie-ins to the existing hospital systems were challenging,” says Wisniewski. “We had to work closely with the hospital FMO team to ensure continuous service.”

Wisniewski credits strong teamwork for the successful completion of the renovation project. Team members include ESC Automation, Viking, Tight 5 Contracting, Northwest Sheet Metal and Rocky Point Engineering. Pax Construction was general contractor and KRA Architecture was responsible for the design.

“I’m proud of the team and especially my guys and our superintendent Ray Greenwood for working through all the issues and keeping things on track,” says Wisniewski, estimating they had a peak crew of up to 10.

Cheryl Mah is managing editor of MCABC Plumbing & Mechanical magazine.


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