'Consensus in collaboration': Reno-area contractors rally to transform parking garage into temporary hospital

RENO, Nev. — It was the evening of March 30 when Jarrett Rosenau's phone rang.

Rosenau, president of Clark/Sullivan Construction's Nevada operations, was getting a call from a couple of local construction and facilities managers about a potential new project. Normally, this kind of call wouldn't seem out of the ordinary.

The purpose of the call and conception of the project, however, were anything but ordinary.

“They said, ‘Hey, we may have an emergency project being pulled together as part of our preparedness response to this COVID issue, and we'll know more in the morning … you may get a phone call,'” Rosenau said in a recent interview with the NNBW. “The next morning, we got the phone call.”

The project was unlike anything ever seen in Northern Nevada. Amid the growing number of coronavirus cases in Washoe County, and in anticipation of a potential spike in hospitalized patients, Renown Health was getting creative.

As a precaution, the healthcare network had blueprinted a roughly $11 million plan to transform the Renown Regional Medical Center's Mill Street parking structure into a temporary patient care area.

Crews turned Renown's Mill Street parking structure into an alternative care site in a mere 10 days.

“We started our work on April 2 and it's been pretty much working around the clock since,” Rosenau said last week.

Other Northern Nevada companies working side-by-side with Clark/Sullivan on the project have included: Curtis Bros. Construction, PK Electrical, Ainsworth Associates Mechanical Engineers, Intermountain Electric, Mt. Rose Heating & Air Conditioning, Frank Lepori Construction, Savage and Son, and Innovative Communication Systems.

“We're very pleased,” Rosenau said, “that we have such great people who are teammates here, and we have relationships with trade partners that, when we call and say, ‘Hey, (Renown) hospital just called us, we're all hands on deck, and we need to do this,' they're all in.

“So there's a huge consensus in collaboration that we need to come together and come together quickly to meet the needs of what Renown was identifying as something that was going to be really, really important for the community.”

Renown's parking-structure-turned-temporary-hospital has capacity fo 1,400 beds.

They came together quickly, all right. By April 14, a mere 10 days after full-scale construction started, crews had transformed Renown's Mill Street parking structure into a three-story alternative care site capable of holding up to 1,400 beds at peak capacity.

At the time of this story's writing on April 14, the ground floor was completely repurposed — replete with flooring, electrical infrastructure, wall partitions, lighting, water, WiFi and more — and was ready to see up to 700 patients. Plans were in place to quickly, if needed, fill the garage's first floor with the additional 700 beds.

“It was an engineering feat beyond all levels,” Chris Baker, director of facilities engineering at Renown Health, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “Creating 91,000 square feet of hospital in a 7-to-10 day window is very, very remarkable, and the collaboration across the community has been great.”

With Renown being the only Level II trauma center in Northern Nevada, Baker said the organization felt a responsibility to the community.

By April 14, the ground floor of Renown's temporary care site was prepared to see patients, if needed.

As of this writing, 33% of the state's ICU beds were filled by coronavirus patients, according to an April 14 report from the Nevada Health Response.

“We serve the community, and having that capacity surge plan in place is paramount to continue to do that work,” Baker said.

Notably, the existing Renown Regional Medical Center has 808 beds.

“By adding 700 beds to the ground floor, we in essence have doubled the capacity of the hospital,” Baker said. “Having the ability to add another 700 beds on the first floor really just shows the magnitude of what the organization is committed to.”

Baker added that the organization takes pride in not only giving the community additional care area if needed, but also giving local contractors and companies additional business.

The cost of Renown's new alternative care site project was roughly $11 million.

“From the time we sat down, from concept, through our engineering phases and into construction, the support from our local community and vendor partners was that they are 100% committed,” Baker said. “They are right there with us, days and evenings, just throughout this whole project.”

David Mansfield, founder of Reno-based Curtis Bros. Construction, said his workers were more than happy to put in long days.

“We ended up working 8-to-12-hour — sometimes longer — days,” Mansfield said. “Obviously, we appreciate the opportunity for the business and to work alongside all the other construction companies. My guys were very happy to rack up overtime.

“We're very proud to have worked on it and honored to be called in and participate in the project.”

Rosenau echoed Mansfield.

“We're just really proud to be part of a community that's really rallied together,” he said. “We're really blessed and humbled that Renown trusts us enough to be a part of this emergency project with their team to put something together that is best for the community.”

According to a Renown Health press release, the Grand Sierra Resort, Atlantis Resort, Peppermill, The Nugget and The Row all chipped in by lending fold-away beds for the makeshift hospital; further, the Boys & Girls Club Of Truckee Meadows lent 1,400 chairs for the project.


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