BY: JEN LEVISEN, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MORTARR
With over 150 healthcare projects for over 20 different healthcare organizations totaling over $2.2 billion, Knutson Construction’s strong reputation in the healthcare industry is well earned and well deserved.
“Our team is known for their expertise in preconstruction and construction services specific to health care,” says Steve Weick, Knutson Construction’s Marketing Director. “They leverage lessons learned and best practices from our entire health care construction portfolio and from their individual project experience. Core members have spent decades honing their skills in a range of healthcare projects from the Mayo Clinic Richard O. Jacobson Building, the Midwest Fetal Care Clinic, the Mercy Mother Baby Center, the Fairview Southdale Emergency Department Expansion, along with our most recent work at the Marshfield Clinic Eau Claire campus.”
Early this year, Knutson completed work on the 45,000-square-foot Marshfield Cancer Center and 225,000-square-foot, five-story Marshfield Medical Center, both in Eau Claire, Wis.
The cancer center includes a radiation oncology floor, a medical oncology floor, a mechanical penthouse and partial basement with mechanical, electrical and support services. The basement also has a tunnel that connects to the hospital.
The new hospital has a full basement, four floors of patience care, and a fifth-floor penthouse. The building has a loading dock area and connecting link to the existing ambulatory facility. The site also has a mobile technology pad and a helipad. The hospital provides specialty services, such as hart care, orthopedics, sports medicine, general surgery, plastic surgery, ENT, neurosurgery, obstetrics/gynecology, bariatric surgery, vein care, pain management and pediatrics.
Knutson served as general contractor responsible for the entire build out, the trade partners, and delivering the contract on time and on budget.
“Speed was really the biggest ask by the owner on this project,” says Weick. “They were entering into a competitive market with other hospitals renovating or opening new spaces in a similar timeframe. It was an interesting situation because the hospital wanted to open as fast as possible, but they had to wait until the latest possible moment to order the equipment to go into the new space because even 6 months can mean newer, better technology.”
Weick says two things made all the difference on the Marshfield project.
“We implemented something called Lean Last Planner Scheduling which allowed us to do block schedule so the subcontractors knew where they needed to be and for how long,” he says. “Separate groups could work in tandem with each other. We hadn’t really used this process much on other projects, but we dug in and required ourselves and our subcontractors to use it.”
The second was requiring that work on the project be the number one priority for all trade partners involved.
“We like to work with local trade as often as we can, but we were very specific about this being the number one project for all of our trade partners,” Weick says. “That is where it can all fall apart, regardless of best intentions.”
Some off-site fabrication was done as well so walls could come in and be immediately installed, and Knutson utilized a mobile drawing system which allowed them to share the most updated drawings, whenever they were available, with everyone involved in the project wherever they happened to be.
While Knutson wasn’t responsible for the ordering of the technology that was to go in the building, they were for the timing and placement of the technology, as well as being sensitive to the needs of the technology and the spaces they were creating.
“Certain floors, depending on what they were housing, needed to be built a certain way to limit vibrations, etc.,” says Weick. “Knowing how much equipment was going in and where it would be located was crucial to those plans and open communication between all project managers was key.”
Knutson started construction in January 2017 on both projects, and both were opened in the spring of 2018 – right on schedule.
According to Weick, healthcare aligns well with Knutson’s value system.
“A lot of the work we do is around disruption avoidance,” he says. “We may be renovating or adding on to a hospital or clinic, but we never want the patients to know that we are there. The last thing we want them thinking about is the construction work going on around them.”
Knutson’s ability to pass those values on to their trade partners is another stronghold of the company.
“We regularly hold safety meetings to talk about the days and weeks ahead,” he says. “It is our opportunity to draw together our teams, subcontractors, etc., to reinforce our commitment to the project at hand and to those involved and impacted. It’s TKE – The Knutson Experience. It’s how we deliver the values our company was founded on, and how we turn those values into an everyday experience for all involved.”