On time, on budget: Three major health care projects taking shape

Oct. 4, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Journey Group.

The construction industry has to deal with a lot of variables, from unpredictable weather and material costs to labor issues.

Managing multiple large projects at once presents additional challenges.

But using a combination of effective management, efficient planning and attention to company culture, Journey Group is at or ahead of schedule and on or under budget for three major projects for Avera Health.

“We have a close working relationship built on trust,” said Darin Hage, vice president of Journey’s buildings division.

“It allows us to do some things to better control our destiny. Utilizing the construction-manager-at-risk approach also fosters teamwork and gives us the capability to get in front of certain things on projects.”

Here’s a look inside the three major projects, in various stages of completion.

The Helmsley Center

Avera’s new Pierre cancer center held its grand-opening on schedule last weekend, with rave reviews from the community.

Thanks to a $10 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, The Helmsley Center will provide state-of-the-art cancer care to people in Pierre and surrounding communities.

“It’s like a more compact version of the Prairie Center in Sioux Falls,” project manager Joe Niewohner said. “It’s a very unique building, and it’s turned out well.”

Located between Avera St. Mary’s Hospital and Avera Medical Group buildings, it was a complex 18-month project that Journey had to manage efficiently to meet an aggressive opening date.

“There’s always challenges when you’re trying to tie into structures and building in between two structures, plus working through those winter months in Pierre it can become very cold,” project engineer Cody Sharrow said. “We took a close look at the schedule and tracked it the entire way.”

Using lean construction techniques, ongoing communication and careful planning, Journey was able to collaborate with subcontractors to hit timelines, keep hospital staff informed and gather input on the team to help avoid lost work time.

“It’s essentially identifying constraints, items that might not have been caught, and bringing accountability on everyone to follow through with what they have said they can do,” Sharrow said.

Journey’s strong relationships with subcontractors supported the approach, Niewohner added.

“Sometimes, working out of town can be a challenge, but it’s a credit to our subs that they provided really good leaders committed to getting the project done. And they provided input and bought into the schedule and owned it.”

The community has been eager to see the new addition.

“We’ve given tour after tour, and there’s a lot of excitement in the community about this project,” Sharrow said. “I know there are a lot of happy people.”

Rock Rapids hospital

The new hospital in Rock Rapids, Iowa, is an example of how the culture of a job site can be game-changing.

The new $16 million hospital is three months ahead of schedule and $1 million under budget. It’s scheduled to be done by the end of the year.

“They have really created a positive culture there, and that has gone a long way,” Niewohner said. “You walk through that job site and people say hi to each other. They joke a little. They’ve done a really good job of servant leadership and helping the contractors succeed, and I honestly believe that’s why the project is where it’s at.”

The culture reflects the broader approach Journey tries to take on every job.

“It’s not about shoving down your throat how to do things or what needs to be done. It’s treating people with respect and getting them to buy into it and own it,” Niewohner said. “Subcontractors look at that and want to work for that too because they get treated the right way.”

Lean practices also have helped define the schedule for the job and created an environment of mutual accountability, he said.

“It’s really exciting to see that happen. It’s probably the smoothest project I’ve had in my career.”

Avera on Louise

The largest construction project in Sioux Falls also is on schedule and on budget thanks to an early focus on efficiency and Journey’s strong relationship with Avera.

“It’s a big, structural steel project, and we were able to get out in front of that with Avera,” Hage said. “We got competitive quotes and got the major pieces of steel secured sooner, as well as the precast concrete panels and window systems going while we were still in design.”

Journey also interviewed and selected some subcontractors, such as mechanical and electrical companies, early in the process so their input could be integrated into the design.

“Avera trusted that our early budget will hold,” Hage said. “By allowing us to act as construction manager at risk, we’re making some decisions earlier and able to get the project set up in a short time cycle from concept to completion.”

Crews now are working on getting the building enclosed by early November. While it was a wet summer, Journey prepared for it.

“We had a lot of pre-planning to make sure we had access to the building with temporary roads, so you can get equipment to the building if you had rain days,” project superintendent Eric Bender said. “Some of it you just fight through. Exterior work got a little behind, but we manage in a way we can keep it on schedule.”

By the end of the year, the goal is to have the entire site graded and ready for exterior work in the spring. Work will move inside the buildings during the winter.

“We also have a really good group of subcontractors on board, and they put in the extra time to keep things on track,” Bender said. “That’s been huge.”

Are you planning your next commercial construction project? To find out more about how Journey Group can deliver on time and on budget for you, click here. 

On time, on budget: Three major health care projects taking shape

Using a combination of effective management, efficient planning and attention to company culture, Journey Group is at or ahead of schedule and on or under budget for three major projects for Avera Health.

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