Lexington Medical Center Celebrates Topping Out of New Patient Tower

LEXINGTON, S.C.— Lexington Medical Center celebrated a major milestone in November when it placed the final beam on top of a new patient tower. The project is a collaboration between Brasfield & Gorrie,  the general contractor for the expansion project, and Chicago-based Perkins+Will,  the architectural firm that designed it.

According to a statement, over 700 workers have worked a total of more than one million man hours on the project so far. As is tradition, the top beam had an evergreen tree and flag on it when it was hoisted into position. The evergreen tree symbolizes good luck, growth, longevity, and the construction crew’s pride in their accomplishment.

Initially, the hospital will open about 70 beds, with the ability to open more in the future. The new tower will include additional operating rooms, a relocated Labor & Delivery department, postpartum beds, newborn nurseries, additional intensive care and medical/surgical beds, and space for expanding clinical departments.

Lexington Medical Center delivers the second highest number of babies in South Carolina each year, performs more than 23,000 surgeries annually, and operates the busiest emergency department statewide. With the population of Lexington County growing quickly, Lexington Medical Center needs to expand its facilities to meet the needs of a growing patient base. The 438-bed hospital remains full, with steady growth annually.

Healthcare Construction + Operations News spoke with Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President and Division Manager Michael Byrd, who oversees the company’s Charlotte, N.C., office, regarding the construction of the new patient tower.

Q: When did construction of the project begin, what is the expected completion date, and what is the anticipated budget?

Byrd: Construction began in June 2016. We’re scheduled to complete the new tower in February 2019. The renovation project extends another year into March 2020. The estimated total construction cost is $293 million currently.

Q: Have there been any challenges to date on the construction of this project?

Byrd: Yes, there have definitely been challenges. We’ve experienced difficulty with weather conditions during the course of the job, including hurricanes. In general, the challenges of working on a site this large in the middle of an active hospital campus include having to work around patients, staff, and the public. In addition to the busy hospital, there are active doctor’s offices surrounding the site, furthering the need to consider public safety. Despite these challenges, the project is on schedule.

Q: What will be the key/notable design features?

Byrd: The expansion includes a 550,000-square-foot, 12-story tower and a 70,000-square-foot, freestanding central utility building. It also includes a new parking deck with more than 900 spaces, and 125,000 square feet of renovations to the interior of the existing hospital. We also installed a new bridge to connect the tower to the existing facility.

Q: How will this addition influence/improve patient care?

The expansion will provide more space and updated facilities, enabling Lexington Medical Center to treat more patients and provide the best care possible. The parking facility will support the traffic and parking needs related to increased patient load.

Q: What best practices did you implement while working on this project that you would suggest to others?

Byrd: At the project’s outset, we focused on addressing patient safety, patient access, and allowing staff to continue to do their jobs effectively amid ongoing construction. In the preconstruction phase of the job, we studied how to manage the flow of traffic, the procurement of cranes, and the delivery and offloading of equipment. Our orientation process has been extensive; every time a new employee is hired, they have to receive training so they know exactly what they’re doing, where they’ll be doing it, and what will be around them to ensure they have the knowledge necessary to do their job in a safe manner.

We have also prefabricated select components for this project, including patient room headwalls, select bathroom features, a tunnel that connects the central energy plant to the parking deck and patient tower, and various mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components. The use of prefabrication for these components has aided schedule, quality, and safety, allowing the team to maximize use of the skilled workforce on site. Prefabricating select components off site has also helped minimize traffic congestion on the active hospital campus.