By Eileen L. Williamson
Omaha District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
AURORA, CO - It has been nearly a year since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District awarded a $570 million fixed price-incentive contract to Kiewit-Turner, A Joint Venture, to continue construction of the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.
The notice to proceed was issued a few days later on Nov. 2. The project is being constructed in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Veterans Affairs with Kiewit-Turner as the primary contractor.
In mid-June, the project, 12 buildings includes 2 inpatient buildings, 2 clinic buildings, a diagnostic and treatment center, a research building, concourse, and energy center totaling 1.2 million square feet, and 3 garages for staff and visitor parking totaling 2,242 spaces, was nearly 55 percent complete.
Andrea Rodriguez, the project’s senior project manager, describes the construction partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Veterans Affairs as mutually beneficial – first for Colorado Veterans and their families and second because project allows USACE to bring its construction management expertise to a significant federal agency adding health care to its project management experience.
The project, led by an approximately 30-member USACE team working collaboratively with the VA project team, is now more than 78 percent complete with inpatient and clinic buildings more than 80 percent complete.
Permanent power is available site wide, steam pipe charging began on Oct. 6 and the mechanical and electrical system are being commissioned.
Kiewit-Turner has around 1,000 craft workers on site and the project remains on target for its scheduled completion in early 2018.
Reception desks and cabinets are installed in the clinic buildings and the inpatient buildings have paint on the walls, ceiling tile, counters and fixtures being installed.
“Things are beginning to look ready to receive patients, but we still have lots of work to do,” said Pete Sturdivant, USACE Senior Resident Engineer for the project.
“Before the VA can serve Colorado’s Veterans in this facility, we have to finish construction,” said Sturdivant.
“We’re very focused on collaboration,” said Rodriguez. “We are collocated with the VA team and believe working together can lead to better decision-making and more efficient work.”
Sturdivant initiated having building teams for each of the project’s 12 buildings. Each team includes project superintendents from Kiewit-Turner, VA building engineers, and USACE project engineers among others.
VA medical staff are part of walk-throughs with USACE managers and engineers.
Rodriguez calls it “ground-truthing”. Before rooms are finished, teams ensure the rooms will meet equipment and patient care needs, from ultrasound machines to physical therapy equipment.
The building teams don’t have to focus on the entire project and representatives from all teams meet regularly to discuss issues that might be seen campus-wide.
“This is a complex medical center - as most hospitals are. Input can come from many avenues but starting it at the building team level helps us to address it there,” said Sturdivant.
“Each day we focus on the task in front of us. We know our destination, we know the roadmap. But, each day, we focus first on reaching the next stop,” said Sturdivant.
But, when the destination is reached, more than 400,000 Veterans and their families in the Colorado area will be served in a world-class healthcare facility.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a wide variety of programs and services for the nation's 22 million veterans and continues to emphasize three long-term goals: increasing access to VA benefits and services, reducing the claims backlog, and eliminating veterans' homelessness. In addition, VA has placed renewed emphasis on rebuilding trust with America's veterans, improving service delivery, and transforming the agency to empower veterans to more easily navigate VA and access their earned care and benefits.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the world’s premiere public engineering organization, responding to our nation’s needs in peace and war. USACE provides engineering and construction services, environmental restoration and management services, research and development assistance, management of water and land related natural resources, relief and recovery work, and other management and technical services. The Omaha District manages over 1,800 projects and an annual program of more than $1 billion.