When the COVID-19 pandemic was first emerging, little was known about how quickly and how severely it would impact Coloradans or the world, at large. The World Health Organization first declared a global public health emergency on January 30th, and by the end of March, United States led the world in confirmed cases.
Cases topped one million in the U.S. by April 2nd and millions lost their jobs. It was then that The Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration sent a letter of intent to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to lease the 2.2 million square feet Convention Center facility in downtown Denver for the purpose of converting it, with the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, into a Tier-3 COVID-19 overflow field hospital. The 2,000-bed facility was designed as the state readied for the potential surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in coming weeks; it would house COVID-19 patients who no longer required ICU beds in order to ease congestion at local hospitals. The state was also securing similar facilities across Colorado for this purpose and expected these facilities to be ready by April 18, 2020.
Weifield’s general contracting partner, Hensel Phelps, was contracting under the primary contractor, ECC – in a preexisting Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) contract that ECC was part of, for rapid deployment response in Colorado. Having recently teamed up on another Convention Center pursuit with us, HP selected Weifield as the electrical partner before contract award.
Turning a large ‘expo’ facility into a medical facility was a complex process; the facility needed to be equipped with all of the infrastructure that would be needed to support its maximum capacity of 2,000 beds as well as operate well as an ambulatory facility and meet ADA/NFPA requirements; these capabilities included:
> Nearly 1,800 lighting fixtures
> Electricity and tubing for oxygen (piped in from an external O2 farm)
> Nearly 3,000 equipment receptacles & 1,500 light switches
> Enhanced fire alarm/smoke control systems
> External Conex shower facilities
> Nurse call alarm systems
> Egress passes
> Air coverages/life safety systems
> Sinks and plumbing within each pod
> Emergency backup power and generator Tier IV backup power/ATS
> Medical gas capability
> 150 exit fixtures
> 80 water heaters and ejector pumps
The beds were to be located in six of the Convention Center’s exhibit halls, each within a 10’ x 10’ hospital pod made of steel frame. The plan was for each hall to be staffed with 50 medical professionals; as a standby facility, it would not be fully staffed until it was needed for patients. With completion expected in under two weeks, the team planned for the worst while hoping for the best; Weifield’s employees from across our projects volunteered to help with overtime work as needed to help meet the compressed schedule.
“Weifield was given a week’s notice from HP before we started the project and we put aside some of our current work to achieve this goal for the community,” said James Selecky, Weifield Founder and Construction Executive. “The whole team rallied with Operations to ensure we had manpower needs covered.”
Weifield rose to the challenge to the delight of our GC partner, Hensel Phelps.
Said Daniel Milinazzo, Safety Director at Hensel Phelps: “Thank you and your employees for all you’ve done to make this a safe project. The real success is the fact that we met the Owner’s expectations of building a facility to help our community in this unprecedented time and everyone went home safe to their families. Great attitudes by all, up to the last one out the door. This is truly a phenomenal achievement!”
Kudos to our amazing TEAM for helping to ensure our community’s readiness and exceeding client expectations on this critical project!