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Even contractors with decades of experience find it a challenge to construct projects in and around a fully operational facility. Bird Construction is one general contractor that has the expertise to make such a project manageable, and it is bringing that capability to the first phase of the Misericordia Health Centre (MHC) redevelopment program.

Located in Winnipeg, MHC is replacing its antiquated Maryland South and Sherbrook buildings in two phases with a new health complex that will house expanded and new programs. Bird Construction broke ground on the first phase of this project in April 2011, and completion is scheduled for fall 2013. The first phase will cost approximately $45 million to complete.

Project Manager Bruce Sworyk says leading up to the demolition of the building, there have been numerous interior renovations and extensive reconfiguration work on the mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems. “We have been reconfiguring the M&E system inside all the various buildings for nearly a year in an effort to reach the point where we could demolish the Maryland building,” he adds.

Thus far, Bird has demolished the Maryland South building to create the space for the new two-storey, 86,500-square-foot building that will house MHC’s expanded and new programs.

These programs include the Buhler Eye Care Centre, which is the largest facility of its kind in Western Canada, according to MHC. The centre houses the Lions Eye Bank, which will be consolidated and expanded to include space for the new University of Manitoba Ophthalmology Residency Program.

For the Ambulatory Diagnostic Centre, the diagnostic imaging department and Diagnostic Services Manitoba laboratory will relocate from the fourth floor to be closer to urgent care and ambulatory care. MHC says this will increase the speed with which MHC can assess and treat patients and decrease lengths of stays.

Another major program, PRIME, specializes in long-term care for the elderly, and this addition to MHC’s capabilities will complement the centre’s existing programs for these patients. MHC says this is a one-stop shop for seniors that will provide medical expertise, recreational and social activities, personal care, rehabilitation and support for families.

MHC says the second phase of the project calls for the demolition of the Sherbrook building, which will make space for a new Misericordia chapel and other “aesthetically pleasing” pieces of the redevelopment program, including a spacious front entrance and a two-storey glass-walled atrium. MHC says this phase might include a renal dialysis centre and chronic care response units.

Complex Operations

Sworyk has worked on projects in the past surrounded by fully operational facilities, but the MHC’s first phase of redevelopment is the most complicated and complex he has managed in his five years with Bird Construction.

“With respect to working within a facility that remains operational, this is certainly upward of one of the challenges we have,” Sworyk says. “We pride ourselves in our ability to plan the work carefully and to execute the work according to the plan. The timely processing of information is a key component in making sure all parties are aware of what is scheduled and what can be expected.”

Planning in the Future

Sworyk says the project has emphasized the importance of scheduling and planning when building in and around an operational facility. For example, the construction team took great care of when to drive piles in a healthcare setting. In this case, MHC’s eye surgeons cannot have vibrations or noise when administering procedures, so Bird had to account for that. “It is critical for all our trades to understand the coordination involved of when you can and can’t do work,” Sworyk says.

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