By Diane M. Calabrese
A vibrant community includes great teams of medical professionals. But supporting those professionals also takes teamwork.
A case in point is Bassett Healthcare, a network of four hospitals and 23 health centers, headquartered in Cooperstown, with facilities throughout the heart of New York State. During the last 18 years, it has expanded and reconfigured to keep pace with the best medical technology has to offer. Since 2002, it has added or renovated 58,000 square feet at its headquarters alone. In doing so, the health care system has depended on a number of return players, including McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, a general contractor, and Matco Electric Corporation, Vestal, New York.
“McCarthy recently completed a $4-million mechanical and electrical upgrade with Matco Electric to the existing energy center at Bassett Healthcare,” says Todd Freed, Project Director with McCarthy. “This is one of 15 projects McCarthy has worked on with Matco Electric for this client in the last year.”
Other recent building projects readied Bassett Healthcare’s Cooperstown location for a 64-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner with cardiac angiography capabilities and a CT simulator, as well as updated angiography and catheter laboratories. Upgrades and renovations to telemetry and information services also took place. Many Bassett Healthcare affiliates beyond Cooperstown received renovations and upgrades, as well.
The cardiovascular imaging — angiography and catheter laboratories — and electronic medical records (EMR) projects were in progress in parallel, explains Joe R. Middleton, Vice President of Facilities Planning and Support Services at Bassett Healthcare.
“These two projects shared common features in that they moved the organization forward into leading-edge technologies for patient care,” says Middleton. Numerous patient-support facilities were coupled with the imaging advances.
“The EMR provides a single point of access for clinicians and patients to the medical record,” says Middleton. It improves overall quality of care, he explains.
Each project at Bassett Healthcare has one overarching goal — putting patients first.
Bassett Healthcare sets high expectations for construction at a functioning health care institution. The federal and state governments set rules of their own. “No one from Matco heads to a hospital jobsite without understanding all procedures,” says Tim Ross, Site Superintendent for Matco.
New site employees receive a thorough orientation in special safety requirements, according to Ross. “We have to run high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters,” he says. Moreover, the rule is that no more than one open ceiling tile at a time is allowed when accessing cables and duct work.
Matco has a history with Bassett Healthcare, which advanced the plan and work schedule, says Ross. “A big advantage is we know where all the panels are, where all the feeds are — that helps,” he explains.
Both teams work well together, which helps alleviate complex jobsite obstacles. “The most challenging recent project was our vertical expansion, which added two levels to an existing hospital while it remained in full operation,” says Middleton. “Matco was a key team member in the coordination and implementation of the work through its efforts in making thousands
of temporary connections for utility and communication systems to minimize disruptions and support continuing patient care.”
Construction of the new levels happened seamlessly, says Middleton, including installation of new power and communication risers, new emergency power systems, and interconnections of major systems and subsystems for other contractors. “All of this was achieved on time, on budget, and without any safety incidents,” he explains.
Providing critical care in a hospital begins with reliable power. Bassett Healthcare has two prime generators and three emergency power generators, including the unit McCarthy and Matco finished installing in February, explains Ross.
“The [generator] project’s short schedule was a challenge for the team to overcome,” says Freed. The deadline was strict, with only two months allowed for design and construction.
Logistics also needed to be considered. The new 2-megawatt generator had to come through the side of the existing energy center, says Freed. The loading dock and other access to services had to remain substantially free. Part of the solution was to bring certain components in separately and to install them at the site.
“Matco Electric’s expertise in expedited equipment procurement was absolutely essential for the project’s success,” says Freed. “Matco was a key team member bringing facility knowledge as the electrical contractor.”
Indeed, Ross could tap past experience with generator projects at Bassett Healthcare, including one in 2002 during the first phase of a campus expansion where Matco installed a 12,470-volt, 2,000-kilowatt Caterpillar diesel generator with a Russelectric automatic transfer switch and paralleling gear in anticipation of future growth. Adding to the pool of expertise were Matco Project Managers Jim Keough and Gary Czuhanich, who have also been involved with Bassett Healthcare projects for 18 years.
A medical emergency power (MEP) initiative in 2005 at Bassett Healthcare included a second 12,470-volt, 2,000-kilowatt generator added in parallel.
At the same time, radiators were mounted remotely on the roof; and airflow and cooling issues were addressed.
McCarthy and Matco have worked on generator installations and related changes with the following companies in addition to Russelectric: Milton Cat, generator supplier; Cannon Design, engineers; and New York State Electric & Gas Corp., utility company.
“McCarthy and Matco have worked together since the early 1990s on probably 40 to 50 projects, including multiple building expansions, renovations, and facility center upgrades,” says Freed. “We have grown together and developed a level of trust in each other, which has allowed us to work together as a team in solving some tough construction problems.”
Matco and McCarthy have worked on electrical projects for Bassett Healthcare at several of its other locations. These include Little Falls Hospital, O’Conner Hospital, and Bassett Hospital of Schoharie County, as well as the health centers of Bassett Healthcare in Canajoharie, Cobleskill, Delanson, Delhi, Hamilton, Herkimer, Morris, Oneonta, Richford Springs, Sherburne, Sidney, and West Winfield.
“Our relationship with Matco has evolved over the years into a true partnership based on mutual trust and confidence,” says Middleton. “The key to the success of our relationship is frequent and open communication at all levels of both organizations.”