Alternative Care Facility for COVID-19 Patients Completed in 10 Days

HGA, Gilbane Building Company, USACE, FEMA and others provide emergency response expertise in renovation of Wisconsin’s State Fair Park Exposition Center.

HGA, a national multidisciplinary design firm, and Gilbane Building Company, a leader in construction and facility management, combined their expertise to meet the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Contracted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Gilbane led the effort, allowing Milwaukee County to respond to the surge in demand at local Milwaukee hospitals. With other local subcontractors, HGA and Gilbane worked together to plan, design, procure and build an alternative care facility (ACF) at Wisconsin’s State Fair Park Exposition Center.

Through integrated project delivery — an approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a streamlined process — the facility transformation was completed in just 10 days, on time and on budget.

Led by Gilbane, all stakeholders gathered daily in a coordinated setting for integrated project team communications. Nearly all the companies involved had worked together; the established level of trust enabled them to move quickly. To ensure onsite safety, all workers wore Personal Protective Equipment and went through daily medical screening before the start of each 12-hour shift.

The ACF can currently house 530 non-acute COVID-19 patients. Each 10-foot by 10-foot patient room has three 8-foot-high hard walls, a curtain for the fourth wall and is open to the ceiling to utilize existing Exposition Center lighting.

Organized within three of the Center’s existing halls, the scalable design involved the installation of piped and bottled oxygen designated for specific areas, modifications to electrical power (with 100% backup using emergency generators), a plumbing system, and a wireless nurse call system.

HGA enhanced the USACE early design concept into a scalable plan that allowed the ACF team to make decisions based on best value and current COVID-19 virus projections. HGA leveraged their operational planning expertise to create a plan that emphasized operational efficiency while placing a premium on the patient and staff experience with the ultimate expectation of delivering the best possible patient outcomes in this temporary care facility. Considerations included: how to best use existing access points in the building for separate patient and staff entrances; the flow of materials within the Exposition Center; and patient room configurations (in-line oxygen vs. bottled oxygen based on patient acuity level). The team’s engineering experts assisted in planning patient room toilets, air exchange systems, bulk oxygen systems, and generator capabilities.

“We’re incredibly proud to be part of this effort to help the people of Wisconsin through this unprecedented time,” said Paul Widlarz, Principal and Healthcare Practice Leader at HGA. “The fact that we built a working hospital for COVID-19 patients in just 10 days is a testament to the excellence, dedication and drive of everyone involved with this project.”

“We have executed this unprecedented 10-day design and construction mission as one integrated team that we are extremely proud to be part of,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president and project director of Gilbane.

Media inquires: contact Michelle Nelsen, PR for HGA (p: 612.758.4407) or Breanne Auxier, Assistant Director, Global Sales and Marketing for Gilbane (p: 312.614.4100). Find coverage of the news on Gilbane’s news room.

HGA has created a hub for our insights and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic as architects, engineers, interior designers, and problem solvers. Follow the conversation here.