People

Renovation Sparks Innovation

by  Tom Quinlan

 

Tom Quinlan

Tom Quinlan

As a general contractor with a specialty in new construction and renovation, you have to improvise a little. Just like  artists who would prefer a blank canvas to create their masterpieces, so would the GC like the freedom to operate that comes with new construction. Yet for many of us who do both, renovating an existing healthcare facility presents a challenge—building with little or no impact to existing operations–that enables a different kind of creativity that can be just as rewarding.

Our company recently completed a project that illustrates this concept. It was a relocation of a reception desk/lobby area for a children’s hospital in Boston. Talk about challenges!

First, let’s consider the reception desk. It’s the hub of the entire building—both for people who work there and guests. Make that a hospital, and the reception desk takes on even greater importance as it’s the first point of contact for loved ones going to visit a sick family member or friend. It becomes a point of comfort for many. So when a relocation of a reception desk occurs, you have to plan accordingly to minimize downtime.

In this particular case, the reception desk was to be relocated while the entrance/lobby remained open. It was a logistical nightmare with the potential for confusion involved with people visiting the hospital, staff, deliveries, etc.

Typically, in a project of this scope, we create a process for going about our work. It involves frequent communication with the appropriate staff, signage, and other ongoing efforts to minimize the impact to operations. But process wasn’t going to minimize the amount of time the entrance would be without a reception desk. That required the artist in us to come up with a plan. It went something like this:

We built the new reception desk off-site. This included all the wire preparation as well. Installation was as simple as dropping in the desk and plugging in the electrical.

To the staff and visitors to the hospital, not one day was spent without a reception desk.

As a finishing touch, and truly invoking the artist in us, the project included the design of blades of sea grass waving in the breeze on the millwork. A cloud system was also constructed out of drywall and hung over the new reception desk. As an added challenge, the cloud system still had to meet all of the Department of Public Health codes.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For the general contractor working on a renovation at a healthcare facility or hospital, a work of art is the project that makes barely a ripple on the day-to-day operations. It’s the project where both residents and staff say, “that went by quickly” followed by “that looks fantastic.” Those projects don’t start with a blank canvas but, at the end of the day, can end up looking like the Mona Lisa.

 Tom Quinlan is the president and founder of South Coast Improvement in Marion, Mass.