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Thought Leaders: Leaning on collaboration to navigate unprecedented times and the path forward

By Victor Fuchs

Since March 16, 2020, the state of Nevada, and our entire country, have faced unprecedented circumstances amidst the COVID-19 landscape. During our statewide shutdown in Nevada, construction was deemed essential, and rightfully so. However, as a result our industry has undergone major changes to ensure that our projects continue progressing. And most importantly, our workforce is kept healthy and safe.

Victor Fuchs is President & Managing Partner of Helix Electric of Nevada.
Courtesy Photo

Quickly following Governor Sisolak’s March shutdown announcement, construction safety organizations, such as OSHA, released in-depth COVID-19 guidelines for our state’s construction companies to integrate into their safety programs.

Here at Helix Electric, new safety measures across job sites and throughout our office included: required face coverings and social distancing, frequent hand washing, increased sanitation procedures, and enforced occupancy restrictions on gathering areas.

In addition to following the new OSHA guidelines and added safety measures, Helix also created an internal COVID-19 Task Force, which was assigned a phone number and email address for leadership and employees to contact with questions, concerns or any other feedback to keep our team members and their families healthy and safe.

In an industry and company which is already safety focused, these new precautions and measures demanded a new level of trust, communication and collaboration between company leadership, company employees, and all of our partners.

While the level of collaboration or teamwork necessary is dependent on each project, it is always present. Our team approach to all of our jobs has led to trusted craftsmanship and a long history of project successes. As a result of those successes, Helix Electric was selected as the electrical contractor for the Northern Nevada Medical Center 3rd floor remodel and operating room expansion.

With increased growth in Sparks and the surrounding area, Universal Health Services, Inc. sought to renovate the 3rd floor and make additions to the facility to meet the demands of the growing community. The project consisted of renovating the existing 10,377 sq. ft. floor, comprised of patient rooms, offices, and a pharmacy.

The construction team was also tasked with adding in a new operating room. Our team at Helix Electric provided necessary power infrastructure to the existing electrical system, which included the installation of electrical panels, lighting, and special systems.

This expansion presented several challenges to the construction team. The project required collaborative efforts from all partners to ensure success. For the duration of construction, the hospital, and the 3rd floor specifically, remained fully operational.

To maintain uninterrupted service throughout the hospital, Helix worked closely with our partner and general contractor, SR Construction, as well as the facility staff to mitigate disruption to the facility’s activities.

Organizational practices, such as pull planning were used by all key stakeholders from concept, through design, and into the construction phase of the project to keep crews working productively and harmoniously. To ensure the hospital services remained uninterrupted, construction was split into multiple phases of work over a 10-month schedule.

As our Helix team integrated the new lighting systems with the existing systems, employees were also tasked with keeping continuous power to air fans and condensers necessary to maintain required atmospheric conditions in surgical areas and operating rooms.

Through the integration of strict preplanning practices, open communication and collaboration, the project resulted in a fully functional, renovated 3rd floor, with a new operating room addition. While the pandemic altered safety practices in the planning rooms and in the field, our focus on the importance of teamwork and collaboration has remained steadfast.

In the midst of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our team was working on Reno’s first freestanding ER, a project that epitomized the word “essential” in the Reno area. Helix Electric of Nevada performed the connection of premanufactured electrical lighting system sections throughout the facility.

As a result of a heightened dedication to safety and an uncompromised focus on teamwork and collaboration from all parties, Northern Nevada’s first-ever freestanding emergency department was completed in August 2020. This freestanding ER features eight treatment rooms and includes fast-track exam rooms designed to efficiently triage low-severity patients. Additionally, it houses advanced imaging technology, such as CT and X-ray equipment, a lab, and a pharmacy.

As we look to the end of 2020, and the start of 2021, we must recognize and celebrate the areas in which we were able to grow and come together in these unprecedented times. We look forward to the year ahead, excited about the projects to come and the continued growth and success of our team.

Although this year has presented challenges and obstacles, our team has a renewed sense of gratitude for the essential work that we provide, a heightened passion for helping our community when it is in need, and a deep-rooted hope that we will all emerge stronger than ever.

Victor Fuchs is President & Managing Partner of Helix Electric of Nevada, which sponsors this content.