Temporary COVID-19 treatment centers: An Albertan approach to fighting the pandemic

May 7, 2020

A heartfelt display of entrepreneurial and charitable spirit help to support our communities during this time of crisis

By Todd Hartley

 

Like most people around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my life. It has altered my way of thinking, as well as the way I approach everyday activities. Adapting to this dramatic change didn’t happen overnight—it occurred in several phases.

At first, my focus as the leader of our Alberta’s Buildings teams was to enable my staff to work from home. Our architects and engineers work on complex programs, like Buildings Information Modeling (BIM), that require a significant amount of equipment and bandwidth to work efficiently. Thanks to an amazing effort from our information technology team at Stantec, that change was relatively seamless. Unfortunately, our IT team can’t help me juggle having the entire family at home while supporting my children with online schooling, but I truly wish they could!

The next step was to ensure we were able to continue supporting our clients on the projects that are underway and under deadline. Our teams are involved in several projects across the province, including the Calgary Cancer Centre and the redevelopment of the BMO Centre in Calgary. We were not about to let the pandemic keep us from our work.

Now, we are focused on supporting our clients and our communities as they battle COVID-19 and prepare for recovery. After reaching out to local partners in Calgary, we discovered that a local company—Sprung Structures—was witnessing a significant demand for their prebuilt structures. Why? Because the structures can be retrofitted to serve as temporary COVID-19 treatment centers.

 

Schematic design of the temporary COVID-19 Treatment Centre at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

 

Designing temporary COVID-19 treatment centers

Sprung was fielding calls from organizations across the globe, and they were beginning to run low on inventory. That’s when they expressed their desire to donate a structure to their home province—Alberta. As soon as we heard about the initiative, we knew we wanted to contribute in some way—any way. So, we partnered with Sprung and CANA Construction to develop the temporary facility for Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Government of Alberta, offering our design and construction services to see the project through to completion. 

Stantec has a long history of partnering with AHS and the Government of Alberta. We have forged a strong working relationship when it comes to delivering essential projects for the province. Whether we’re working on the design of the Calgary Cancer Centre or providing neo-natal care rooms at Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, we always design with Albertans health and wellness in mind.

So, we pitched the idea of using the temporary structure at one of the two hospitals in Calgary designated to treat COVID-19 patients. As Calgary has a significant percentage of Alberta’s COVID-19 cases, there is a critical need for extra space to treat this virus. Ultimately, AHS chose the Peter Lougheed Centre as the best site for the temporary facility. Why? Because not only is their emergency department experiencing strain but the location gave use the ability to set the temporary treatment facility next to the existing hospital and act as overflow for patients.

 

We partnered with Sprung and CANA Construction to develop the temporary facility for Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta, offering our design and construction services to see the project through to completion.

 

Coordination and collaboration

Our partners at AHS gave the team the greenlight to proceed on Friday, April 3, with design work beginning in earnest the following Monday. In days, we had our teams together to finalize design and construction. In three weeks, we will have taken this project from approval through to patient intake. But don’t let the quick timeline fool you, an incredible amount of work went into this initiative:

  • Establishing integrated teams to bring the right experts onboard. Integrated design is what we do best—it’s the culture of our organization. Within one call we had a full team put together, all of whom were excited to contribute to this project and made it their priority.
  • Coordinating with user groups that included doctors, nurses, care workers, and hospital stakeholders to ensure that the temporary structure supports their needs. As we know healthcare design and have completed many projects with AHS, we were able to go from a blank floor plate to a signed-off floor plan in two user group meetings. The team continued to work tirelessly with users every day to incorporate all the details and services needed to design on-the-fly as the structure was being completed.
  • Collaborative design: In addition to the user’s needs, much of the complexity of the project focused on how to provide typical services for a healthcare facility in a temporary format. Our engineering leads, with many years of experience, worked seamlessly with the major mechanical and electrical trades to tie in most of the services to the primary systems of the hospital. This took significant investigation and options analysis to pin down the final solutions.

 

Knowing that this temporary treatment facility could potentially support our friends, families, and neighbors if they fall ill inspires me—it inspires all of us.

 

A call we’ll always answer

We are currently moving at lightning speed. And yet, we are working well as a team. Knowing that this temporary treatment facility could potentially support our friends, families, and neighbors if they fall ill inspires me—it inspires all of us.

We are living through a period in time that we will never forget and one that will likely change our lives permanently. We all have moments of stress and fear. We miss the things that gave us comfort like taking our kids to the park or playing sports with friends. But at the end of the day, I have been able to find some positives in this situation: knowing our team has been able to do something to help our frontline workers, as well as those who are enduring the nightmare that is COVID-19. That gives me hope. 

Thank you to everyone who is staying home to stop the spread. Be well and stay safe. 

 

About the author
Todd Hartley brings more than 20 years of experience to his role as senior principal architect and managing leader for our Buildings team in Alberta.

 

 

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