COVID-19 Healthcare

20 Days and 375,000 SF Later

RI Convention Center Hospital / Photo courtesy of Dimeo Construction Company

by Molly Millea

Providence, RI – On April 2, 2020 Dimeo Construction Company was awarded the Rapid Response Facility Projects. This was a series of three sites for temporary COVID-19 hospital facilities.

Three days prior on March 30, the State of Rhode Island had reached out to Dimeo seeking an ‘emergency bid’ for a construction manager, who could then subcontract others that would be needed on these emergency jobsites. Out of five competing firms, Dimeo was selected and construction began six days later. Urgency was required as the state and country prepared for a surge of cases, that would potentially overflow the states existing hospitals.

Working 24 hours a day for three weeks straight alongside the Rhode Island National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dimeo planned, built, and executed the plans for these facilities. With the help of NEMD Architects, AKF Group, CA Pretzer Associates, and 60 subcontractors these three facilities were completed on time and the State of Rhode Island was prepared if extra hospital beds were needed.  In total, 1,380 beds were made available in this emergency endeavor.

Transforming the RI Convention Center, a former Citizens Bank, and a former Lowe’s Department store into functioning hospitals required hours of planning with the design team, hospital staff, and the project OPM, AECOM. Each semiprivate bed in the Providence & Quonset Rapid Response Hospitals were serviced by individual electric receptacles and dedicated oxygen service. All three sites were fully equipped with new mechanical and electrical systems as required to meet all necessary codes for hospital facilities. All low voltage systems including telecom, security, card access, and medical gas wiring were added to create the proper operating systems for these facilities.


A new 42 inch diameter ducted exhaust and Heppa air filtration system was included on the newly installed exhaust air system to remove the air from the patient care floor area while providing 100% fresh outside air from the existing Air Handling equipment.

When asked to reflect on this time sensitive operation, the Dimeo team described the mission and morale as determined, tenacious, positive, and supportive. While these facilities will be converted back to their original state sometime in the future, we will never forget the 20 days spent transforming and helping the state of Rhode Island and its citizens amid a global pandemic.

Molly Millea is social media coordinator/marketing assistant at Dimeo Construction Company.

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