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A Guide to Keeping Your Healthcare Practice Open during a Remodel

Healthcare Office Remodel

Healthcare practitioners can have a difficult time deciding when to start an occupied office remodel due to the speculation of shutdown inconvenience, operations minimization, or the lessening of their income. These are all legitimate concerns during healthcare construction, but Wolgast can offer several scenarios and strategies to keep your practice going while remodeling your office.

We understand the need to continue to generate income, so our strategies also consider your parking, the need for clean space, reducing noise, containing odor pollutants, HIPAA regulations, and patient/staff flow. The key is to get in and get out once construction crews are on the scene completing their healthcare construction services.

Preconstruction Planning

Sometimes the early preconstruction phase, including design, budgeting, and documentation can feel like it takes a long time when an owner is ready to “break ground”, or kickoff their remodel now! This time period is critical to prepare for the speed, organization, and project accuracy that is needed during the construction phase. Design changes are made more easily during preconstruction and are typically much more costly once construction starts. This is also when the healthcare contractor strategizes with the client on how to keep their operations running. Office staff are not alone in making operations work with little disruption.

This is the time to plan for patient's parking needs and alternative spaces for construction equipment or contractor’s trucks. A Site Superintendent will collaborate with staff to designate and block off areas that will be for contractor parking only and where deliveries should be made, so not to co-mingle with your staff or patient parking. Additionally, Wolgast’s precautions to meet HIPAA regulations are prepared for our client’s patient privacy, so any shelving with files needing to be relocated or sound barriers for privacy can be accommodated. Furthermore, we would discuss with the client the temporary routes for patient flow, so there continues to be little interaction between patients or construction members.

In order to keep construction moving swiftly, all material selections and finishes need to be made early in the process, importantly prior to construction, so items can be ordered and on hand when needed. 

Speed of Construction

The slower your contractor performs or takes to finish your healthcare facility remodel could have a negative impact on your operations. Design-Build Construction Delivery Service is also known as the Fast-Track to construction because of the efficiency it provides to design time and earlier project start time. Wolgast is a Design-Builder, we are involved from start to finish by creating the plans, securing your trade contractors, and constructing the remodel. We can save time by having all the players on the same team to collaborate, order materials and supplies earlier in the process, and gain necessary permits as soon as possible.

Wolgast already has a reputation for speed beyond our Design-Build service, and we know that keeping our client’s operations running without interruption is the most crucial element of the project. We are able to control the pace of our projects through the in-house trades we provide, our skilled labor, systemized operations, equipment, and the planning that takes place during the preconstruction phase. Our speed enables us to complete a remodel more quickly and get out of the client’s way to enjoy their fresh new space.

Team Collaboration

It is best to make a calendar of events when you will need an area of your building. Perhaps you only do certain procedures on a specific day of the week, or alternatively, you do not do procedures on a certain day. Recording these types of activities can become a part of the construction schedule. Or you have an event every year that would be ruined if your staff area or lobby were not available when you need them. Give this information to your construction team, so they can make notes to the schedule. The healthcare practice’s representative should communicate regularly with the Site Superintendent about the needs within their building. A company maintenance person or IT professional may need to be included on a case-by-case basis when relocating work areas.

Construction Scheduling for Occupied Spaces

An interior office remodel of this nature is typically scheduled in segments (or phases), specifically, so the whole building does not have to be shut down at once. Our own Executive Office remodel was done in segments. Work entails removing furniture as necessary from areas in one portion of the building, setting up temporary workstations for that activity that was displaced (coordinated by your assigned construction staff, and possibly your maintenance or IT personnel), and all moved back once remodel activity is complete. This segmented approach will roll out until all areas are complete with cleanup happening at the end of each day. For example, temporary barricades including tenting off areas, temporary walls with insulation for sound buffering, or negative air machines will be used to minimize dust, noise, or paint pollutants during the day while the building is in use.

Construction can get dusty at times, and healthcare and restaurant industries are two of the most critical operations needing cleanliness and no dust during an occupied construction project. Wolgast remodels both types of buildings while using the barricades mentioned above plus cutting or preparing materials outside or in a basement (when available) to reduce the dust as much as possible.

Getting Creative

The noise of construction hammering, drilling, or sawing can be bothersome at various times and the noise can be muffled at best with temporary insulated walls and working as far away from patients and staff as possible. However, alternative solutions discussed below are effective at minimizing the irritants, but they can add cost to the budget. Alternatively, they also can allow for faster and quieter construction for staff and patients alike.

We have had healthcare clients opt to use a temporary office, a similar structure to a construction job trailer. This may be for a group that has extensive changes with walls moving or an addition being built onto a building. A temporary office will add to the cost of the project, but your construction team can help set this up and coordinate the necessary relocation of furniture or equipment with less disruption to the healthcare practice.

Another possibility could be scheduling construction work to happen exclusively, full-time after hours (or part-time) when patients and staff are not in the building. This would also be a premium cost as many of our trade contractors are not typically set up to work after-hours and would need special circumstances to coordinate. However, it could also lead to a faster remodel if that is critical to you.

How the Client Can Make the Construction Phase More Efficient

Being flexible and communicating their office’s needs with their Site Superintendent are the keys to construction project success, as well as trusting that healthcare construction company has your best interest in mind. Not all staff members or patients will be happy to share their parking lot or to listen to drilling or hammering all day. We know that it can be a lot and will take all the precautions that we can to minimize disruptions. The faster we can work, the quicker we can complete the project.

In conclusion

Healthcare practices can be remodeled any time an owner decides an update is needed, regardless of the practice schedule. Practice representatives need to contact their Design-Build Contractor early to allow for planning the most efficient construction activity. Also, there needs to be time to make accommodations for patient privacy needs so they can be in place for construction activity.

We have access to equipment that will minimize disruption to staff and patients. There are also options to reduce staff disruption even more, but it may add cost to the budget. However, it could also speed up construction.

Call Michael Shepard, MD, PhD to discuss your healthcare remodel options and occupied building needs.

Solid foundations…Solid results… the Wolgast Way!

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