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Hospital expansion on schedule

John Seelmeyer

The expanded Washoe Medical Center South Meadows rising on the east side of U.S.

395 is on schedule and on budget, no small accomplishment given the complexity of the project.

Among the big challenges: Minimizing disruption of an already busy medical campus during construction.

The 116,000-square-foot project will create a full-scale acute-care hospital in South Meadows, the first new acute-care hospital to open in

the region in two decades.

Two connected buildings are rising this summer.

Closest to the existing buildings is a 51,000-square-foot diagnostic and treatment pavilion that will include emergency rooms and surgery facilities.

A 60,000-square-foot medical office building, meanwhile, is the structure arising closest to Double R Boulevard.

It’s demanding construction, said Alan Olive, administrator of Washoe Medical Center South Meadows.

Regulatory standards in hospitals for fire protection and provision of monitoring equipment, for instance are exacting.

Rooms for high-tech diagnostic equipment need to be specially designed but also need to provide the flexibility to allow installation of the next generation of equipment.

The Washoe South Meadows project is all the more challenging, however, because the facility previously known as Washoe Village already provides services ranging from family care to assisted living and rehabilitation, and some of those services will move from one part of the building to another as work is completed.

If nothing else,Olive said, work around a hospital demands great sensitivity to patients.

For instancec from Shaver Construction and Gough Construction, the companies handling the project, are contractually limited from starting remodeling work before 7 a.m.

inside the existing facilities.

“We have zero complaints about construction,” Olive said.

Employees, he said, have been upbeat despite the construction work around them.

“It’s been exciting for the staff because they can see their future,” he said.

Many of them will be seeing their future through different windows, however, as offices and facilities are relocated during the remodeling.

Family care services, for instance, will move from the rear of the existing building into the new medical office building.

Even as construction continues,Olive’s team is gearing up to add substantial numbers of staff.

The current staff of 230 fulltime- equivalent staff will rise to about 400 fulltime equivalents when the expanded hospital opens.

Despite tight supplies of registered nurses and other medical professionals in the region,Olive said recruitment efforts have been successful so far.

A hiring fair for the facility is scheduled in October.

Negotiations also are continuing with physicians who will use the south-

Reno hospital.Olive estimated that 400 individual physicians will be on board by the early-2004 opening.

Architect for the project is HMC Architects of Nevada.