August 13, 2008

Sacred Heart Hospital in Springfield Opens

By Libby Tucker

After five years under construction, the $500 million Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield is complete and open to the public. Owner and developer PeaceHealth began moving patients on Sunday from its 104-bed University District hospital in Eugene to the new 1.2-million-square-foot facility.

General contractor Turner Construction Co. broke ground on the RiverBend development in 2003 and wrapped up the project in July as PeaceHealth conducted mock exercises to prepare patients and staff members for the move.

The massive complex, on 181 acres near the McKenzie River, is the length of two football fields and includes a 150,000-square-foot Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute and 125,000 square feet of medical office buildings connected to the main tower with sky bridges, as well as parking for 1,000 cars. Services at the nonprofit hospital also include a Neurosciences Institute, Gerontology Institute, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The facility sits on the site like a sprawling estate with architecture meant to evoke a mountain retreat. Health-care architects Anshen + Allen worked with resort designers Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo to create a high-tech hospital with a warm, friendly atmosphere.

"PeaceHealth wanted a state-of-the-art hospital, built and designed for 100 years," said Terry Shugrue, senior project manager for Turner Construction Co. "They did evidence-based design, on the principle that a patient given a nicer environment will heal quicker and take less medication."

The concrete structure is terraced and stepped back with concrete- tile roofs typically found on high-end homes. And the facade was finished in brick, unusual for a large building, with each of the 5 million bricks laid by hand.

Inside, a $250,000, three-story stone fireplace graces the entrance alongside a custom hardwood staircase made with Douglas fir trees salvaged from the lot. Patient rooms afford a view of either the mountains or the adjacent river.

"If you walk into a patient room you feel like you're at a five- star hotel," said Shugrue. "So if I get sick I definitely want to come to this joint."

As one of the largest projects in Oregon under construction in a community of about 57,000 residents, the biggest challenge to Turner was finding subcontractors for the job to meet the owner's request for local labor. No large mechanical and electrical contractors were to be found in the area, for example, according to Turner.

So the typically all-union shop turned to local non-union subcontractors with the condition that they pay their workers prevailing wage. Mechanical and electrical contracts were also divided into smaller pieces to accommodate local companies. In the end, Turner issued about 400 contracts with local contractors completing about 40 percent of the total hours spent on the project, according to Turner.

To keep up with the labor-intensive project, Turner spread shorter work shifts over more days for a consistent workforce of 650 to 700 workers. At its peak, the project could have employed 1,200 workers at once, but instead the labor was distributed evenly, said Shugrue.

"This building, when you see it," he said, "it's just amazing."

Originally published by Libby Tucker.

(c) 2008 Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, OR). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.