Construction workers in Pensacola are working to complete a $636 million project that represents the largest single investment in healthcare facilities, services and programs in Northwest Florida history. (Photo by Baptist Health Care)
Construction workers in Pensacola are working to complete a $636 million project that represents the largest single investment in healthcare facilities, services and programs in Northwest Florida history. The new Baptist Health Care campus is a 10-story, 602,000 square foot building. acute hospital; a 6 story, 178,000 square foot building. Bear Family Foundation Health Center; a free-standing behavioral health unit; and a second, 80,000 square feet. medical office building.
“Our goal is to enable those we serve to get what they need,” said Mark Faulkner, President and CEO of Baptist Health Care. “We are committed to providing the best possible care to our patients and team members , and our new facility will enable us to do just that. Greater access, new and improved opportunities, and updated technology are just the beginning.”
In the fall of 2020, exactly 71 years after groundbreaking for the current hospital, a ceremony was held to celebrate the official launch of the project, although site preparation began before the event.
“On October 30, 1949, our founders broke ground on the construction of the Baptist Hospital with the goal of bringing more modern healthcare to our community. This new campus is her legacy. It will allow us to move forward with a renewed commitment and passion for caring for society for many years to come, with the goal of improving the quality of life for all people, regardless of age and stage of life.”
Faulkner said the location of the new facility is ideal for those seeking treatment.
“Proximity to I-110 provides people throughout Northwest Florida and southern Alabama with easier, quicker and more direct access to services than our current location, which is surrounded by residential lots. Yet we are still less than three miles from where we originated and the community that means so much to us.”
In February 2022, Baptist health leaders and honored guests joined officials from Brasfield & Gorrie and nearly 1,000 members of the site construction crew for a topping-out ceremony that marked the completion of the building’s framework.
“The program recognized the importance of the day and celebrated the skill, hard work and contributions of the construction team. After the program, guests watched as the last steel beam was lifted by crane and placed on top of the new acute care hospital. The beam was signed by team members, volunteers, visitors, builders and others.”
One of the highlights of the project will be the town square and healing gardens, according to Faulkner.
“The defining feature of the new campus will be the many existing mature oak and magnolia trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. In recognition of this wonderful asset, these beautiful trees stand at the heart of the development, in a central area of the town square where patients, visitors and our team members enjoy nature’s healing properties, stroll along a tree-lined walkway, rest or take part in an outdoor -Ability to take a wellness class.We know how important quiet places for reflection and rejuvenation can be, healing. Several areas have been specially reserved and designed for this purpose.”
For Lee Thompson, project manager at Birmingham-based contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, labor and supply chain issues have been the biggest challenges so far, but those issues appear to have been resolved.
“We now have more than 800 workers on site and expect to peak at 1,000 this summer,” Thompson said. “We have faced some challenges in terms of material availability, but so far we have been able to overcome them by working with our trading companies, customers and design teams to develop innovative solutions.”
The site comprised 36 parcels with numerous structures that had to be demolished before new work could begin. Although Baptist Health Care commissioned the demolition outside of the contractor’s remit, Brasfield & Gorrie spent most of the six months managing the logistics of the demolition and other supporting projects to prepare the building block for construction.
Thompson said the site development plans utilize the property’s approximately 57 acres and include approximately 1,200 surface parking spaces. The underground storm, sewage, power and water designs were complex and required close coordination during construction.
Aside from typical excavation work for underground utilities, the site required a lot of “deep digging”.
“Installation of the underground containment system, various stormwater chambers, sewage system and sewage lift station on site required excavation +/- 30 inches deep to accommodate the final structures,” noted Thompson. “Shoring and trenching were a must to carry out these activities safely.”
The property includes a subterranean storm water retention system capable of holding up to one million gallons of water at peak capacity.
“In addition to underground storage, there are seven stormwater ponds on the property to handle the storms that Pensacola often experiences between May and November each year,” Thompson said.
As with any construction project, crews have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast, but Mother Nature has not forced any delays so far.
“Weather can pose a risk, but even Hurricane Sally hasn’t slowed construction on this project. We remain on schedule for fall 2023 completion.”
Remaining major tasks include the completion of the skin components, including exterior glass, metal panels and some roofing. Workers must also complete the interior fit out and finishing of the first floor, including the emergency room, imaging rooms, kitchen/dining room and administrative areas. Interior design and completion of the second floor, including operating rooms, procedure rooms, sterile processing and laboratory remains, and interior design and completion of the third floor and patient tower, including intensive care rooms, pharmacy, work and delivery rooms and medical surgery patient rooms. Landscaping and hardscaping in the meditation garden need to be addressed, as well as the lightwells that bring daylight into the hospital’s interiors.
The project will use a variety of heavy equipment including John Deere 120C, John Deere 250G, Komatsu PC290, Sany SY75C, Cat 336F, Cat 305E, Cat 306 and Cat 303.5E excavators; Cat D6N, D3K2 and D3 Dozers; wheel loaders John Deere 644K and Cat IT38G; Mustang Manitou 1650RT, Cat 259B and Cat 259D3 skid steer loaders; Cat 730 Transporter; Cat Grader 120M2; Cat CS54B and 65ZV rollers; Broce Broom street sweepers; Toro MBTX 2500 Concrete/Mud Buggies; Genie SX-135 XC, Genie S-85 XS, JLG Ultra Boom and SkyJack SJ66T boom lifts; Terex SK415-20, SK575-32 and SK415 tower cranes; mobile and crawler cranes; and Cat TL1055D, Genie GTH-844, Genie GTH-1056 and JCB C510 Lulls/Forklifts.
Thompson said building a healthcare facility is a methodical process because it requires the systems to support the facility’s critical functions.
“In addition to designing these systems, this project includes a central power plant to meet the ongoing needs of the hospital. The facility houses the generators and other equipment that keep the hospital running smoothly Energy is a team effort.
“We also take life safety planning and implementation and regulatory compliance seriously, with review throughout the design, pricing, ramp-up and construction phases of a project.”
Medical equipment coordination is another essential part of building healthcare facilities.
“The precise equipment a hospital uses requires appropriate design precision, including precise fittings, adequate structural support, thorough planning for equipment routing and assembly, and dust-free environments.”
Thompson added that it is a tremendous honor to work on a project that will serve so many for years to come.
“We’re passionate about building strong communities, and it’s easy to see how a hospital campus contributes to its environment. This project also provides a significant number of jobs for residents of the Pensacola area. The impact of this project on the community makes us excited to come to work every day.” CEG