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Haugland Group Builds COVID-19 Hospital in Record Time

by: Debra Wood
Crews perform sitework for utility lines.
Crews perform sitework for utility lines.
Haugland Group built an intensive care facility at the Westchester County Center with 110 beds in the arena and four adjacent tents.
Haugland Group built an intensive care facility at the Westchester County Center with 110 beds in the arena and four adjacent tents.
An interior shot of the finished facility
An interior shot of the finished facility
Interior of one of the four tent facilities
Interior of one of the four tent facilities
Haugland Group built four tent structures.
Haugland Group built four tent structures.
As COVID-19 raged across areas of New York in the spring of 2020, hospitals were running out of beds, especially intensive-care beds. To meet that demand, Haugland Group built an alternative care facility in 21 days at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

“The sense of community, pride and shared responsibility was truly remarkable on this project,” says Billy Haugland Jr., Co-President of Haugland Group in Melville, New York.

For its efforts, Haugland Group earned an award for Greatest Pivot on a Project as one of Viewpoint’s 2020 Construction Award winners. After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District awarded the company the $15 million design-build contract to construct 110 intensive-care beds, in four tents and the civic center, each with a negative air pressure system and nurse call light system, it added the need for in-room oxygen. Everyone on the project pulled together to quickly make it happen.

“Haugland Group has responded to countless emergency response efforts, including the cleanup and restoration from Superstorm Sandy and Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but the synergy between our partners in government, subcontractors, vendors, and team members on this project was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Haugland says. “We came together as a true community, on one common mission, for the good of humanity in a time of crisis.”

Teamwork Made It Happen
LiRo Group of Syosset, New York, served as the engineer of record for the project and CHA of Albany, New York, engineer for the site work.

The four tents were placed in the parking lot of the Westchester County Center and the interior space prepared. Then Haugland Group added the rooms, beds, and the HVAC, oxygen, fire-protection, and nurse call systems. Each room had a negative-pressure requirement, a door with a seal and a window. Each patient-care space had its own air pressure monitoring system to ensure the negative-pressure system was working. Air leaving the rooms passed through a HEPA filter and a 40-foot-tall chimney to avoid releasing COVID-19 air into the atmosphere.

“A scrubbing and HEPA filtration system cleaned the air,” explains Sean Grubert, the Executive Director of Safety for the Haugland Group. “At the point of exhaust, it is cleaned air.”

Crews completed all of the work within three weeks, from March 27, 2020, through April 16, 2020.

“We had a great team; that’s how we did it,” says Grubert. “Everybody rolled up their sleeves and got to work.”

Grubert also credits planning for the successful outcome. Crews worked seven days a week, 24 hours per day.

“The whole job was challenging in regard to the schedule and resources, both materials availability and people,” Grubert says. “Everything was tricky to get because of the timeline.”

Securing the specified materials in a timely fashion was often difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, the contract required washable walls in each of the rooms. During a normal schedule the contractor might have a year to source that, but on this project, the company only had a week to source it and days to put it up. The team selected a prefabricated finished wall system, with interlocking sections, attached to a metal frame. The ceiling tiles were locked down to a grid. Crews caulked the joints between the wall and floor.

The flooring has a rolled system with no joints or seams. The flooring had to be installed first, since the plan was to build from the floor up. Materials came from across the United States and Canada. “We had to make it work,” Grubert says.

Two weeks into the three-week project, the owner added an oxygen system throughout the facility. Originally, the plan was to use oxygen cylinders, but a piped-in oxygen supply was needed for the ventilators required by many of those suffering with COVID-19. Haugland’s subcontractor Airgas of White Plains installed two oxygen systems, one for the tents and one for the arena space. “It was done in record time,” Grubert says.

Haugland Group completed the project, putting in 85,000 man hours, with no injuries or illnesses, and no COVID-19 cases.

“In addition to all of the common hazards on a construction site, we had to manage the real hazard of COVID-19, without much guidance from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” says Matthew Murphy, Safety Director for Grace Industries in Melville, New York, an affiliate of Haugland Group. “We had to develop our own best practices to keep our employees safe while working during the pandemic, which have since become best practices across the country.”

Actions included screening workers for COVID-19 on arrival, promoting social distancing, staggering tradesman start times, wearing masks, cleaning and disinfecting common areas, encouraging handwashing, and educating workers about how to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“I’m proud of the good safety record and the coordination among the workers and tradesman,” Murphy says.

Technology Gave an Assist
Viewpoint presents its annual awards to companies using its software in creative or impactful ways, says Betsie Hoyt, Senior Product Manager for the company in Portland, Oregon. A panel of prior recipients and Viewpoint employees vote on the winners.

Haugland Group used the Viewpoint Team collaborative project and document management product to disseminate the design-build plans and ensure everyone was up to speed for an on-time completion.

“Viewpoint helped all team members assemble on the same platform, with a centralized document-control system,” Grubert says. “It was real-time information.”

Crews could log into Viewpoint multiple times a day to see if submittals had been approved. Everyone involved in the project had access, including the engineers, the owner, and Westchester County officials.

Haugland created turnover packages with the thousands of documents from the construction and about the electrical, fire protection, and other systems to the owner and Westchester County, who would operate the facility.

“Viewpoint was valuable in streamlining the development of turnover packages,” Grubert reports.

Viewpoint Team enables superintendents, specialty contractors and other people in the field to talk with each other and with the office, Hoyt explains. As specs changed, the drawings and documents are updated, so everyone on the job is notified and has the most recent changes.

Kevin Hansen, Senior Project Manager with Haugland Group, praised the dedication and commitment to finishing the job on time by everyone involved with the project.

“Every member on this job I am proud of; we came together, recognizing the end date, and worked toward that end,” Hansen says. “It was an enormous lift, but everybody came through and worked seamlessly to finish this job. For me, I enjoyed going there every day. We had a good time doing it.”

Photos courtesy of Haugland Group