Construction team tip-toes at Renown |

Construction team tip-toes at Renown

John Seelmeyer

Conflicting interests, defined:

Construction team needs to jackhammer out a concrete wall. A few feet above them, a nurse needs to take care of a seriously ill child.

The ill child always took precedence as Clark & Sullivan Construction of Sparks worked for 10 months to complete a $5.2 million renovation project to create a dedicated floor for children’s services at Renown Medical Center.

The 22,000-square-foot center, which includes an 11-room pediatric intensive care unit and 16 private inpatient rooms, is scheduled to open in February.

The project was entirely funded by donors, including the Wilbur D. May Foundation, which provided funding for the pediatric intensive care unit.

It’s on the fourth floor of Renown’s Sierra Tower, a flight of stairs down from the current children’s floor.

That close proximity to a working hospital floor required special attention from construction crews, says Ed Vehorn, the Clark & Sullivan superintendent on the job.

Workers both from Clark & Sullivan as well as a multitude of subcontractors received specialized training on work in a hospital environment.

They learned, for instance, that the concrete wall they removed needed to be wrapped to prevent the spread of dust contamination as it was hauled out of the hospital tower.

They learned that a nurse who told them to stop work that was disturbing a patient was to be obeyed without question.

“We tiptoed,” says Jarrett Rosenau, a senior project manager with the construction company.

The specialized requirements are nothing new to Clark & Sullivan, which has been working continuously on one project after another at Renown since 1987 a quarter of a century.

Still, the coordination of a construction project within a working hospital always is a very dynamic process that requires close communication, says Patty Evans, administrator of process and projects for Renown.

When water or power needed to be shut off for construction on the children’s floor, for instance, the effects rippled through the six floors of the Sierra Tower.

Generally, Clark & Sullivan provided three-day notice before it took any actions that would affect other parts of the tower, giving nurses time to move patients or make other arrangements.

The project designed by HMC Architects is kid-friendly throughout. Computer games are standard-issue in rooms, teen patients have a special room that meets their needs and Ronald McDonald House Charities helped outfit a space complete with kitchen and small fireplace where families can spend time together.

For all the disruption, the construction also provided an opportunity for child-life specialists who work with hospitalized children to let their imaginations run free.

Whenever there was noise on the floor below, Evans says, child-life specialists created fanciful stories about dragons and other mythical characters to keep young patients distracted.