Stuart Olson – Edson Healthcare Centre

Stuart Olson picStuart Olson seamlessly coordinates the construction of the Edson Healthcare Centre that is expected to improve access and quality of care in the community. 

By Janice Hoppe

Stuart Olson brings more than 100 years of construction management experience to the development of healthcare projects across Canada. Having built its reputation on being a trusted advisor over the years, Alberta Infrastructure selected the company through a public tender to coordinate the construction of the Edson Healthcare Centre.

“I think the knowledge base we can draw from and our willingness to collaborate with the owner and design group sets us apart from other construction management firms,” Project Manager Jennifer Coffin says. “We work as a team to produce the best results.”

The Calgary, Alberta-based company was founded in 1911 to deliver tailored, results-based solutions through collaboration and transparency. Primarily a construction management firm, Stuart Olson also offers general contracting, civil, electrical, mechanical and specialty services to the public, private and industrial sectors. “We are there from start to finish, which helps when the project begins because we understand why things are done the way they are,” Coffin says.

Stuart Olson operates offices in five provinces, has a staff of 4,000 and is a single-source service provider to its clients. “Our rich history demonstrates our reach and diversity as an integrated, full-service organization serving the construction and industrial markets,” Coffin says. “We are an organization of people motivated by the opportunity to make a difference.”

Centre for Healing

The town of Edson is a rural community located in west-central Alberta, Canada. Alberta Health Services (AHS) undertook a needs assessment and Alberta Infrastructure completed a business case to determine if it was more effective and efficient to renovate the existing hospital or build a new facility, Coffin says. “Because of the programs and services that were needed to be delivered in the community, it was determined that the best option was to build a new hospital,” she adds. Stuart Olson

Stuart Olson was contracted in 2011 as the construction management firm and construction began in 2013. The Edson Healthcare Centre includes an emergency department, acute care, outpatient services, renal dialysis unit, surgical services, primary healthcare, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, and continuing care. “We expect to turn over the continuing care wing to Alberta Health Services at the end of July,” Coffin says. “The main hospital building was turned over to AHS in March 2016 and they have started clinical commissioning. AHS plans to open the new facility in September.”

The Edson Healthcare Centre was built to improve access and quality of emergency department services and bring advanced technology, facilitating leading-edge treatment and care in the community, according to the AHS website. “Shared space and co-location of various health professionals in the health center design will support a robust primary care model and bring a whole care team to individuals and families in one location,” according to the site. “Edson’s new healthcare facility will consolidate services for community health and wellness, primary care and acute care, significantly improving both access and quality of care in the community.”

Designed with Care

The 235,492-square-foot healthcare centre will feature 24 acute care beds and 76 continuing care beds, which is 26 more than the previous hospital. The main level of the two-level building includes diagnostic, treatment, ambulatory care components and a physician’s clinic. The lower level includes administration suites, building services, food services, a pharmacy, educational facilities and a future rental component.

“It’s beautiful,” Coffin says. “The design team has given a great deal of consideration to patient care and how the space you are in effects your ability to heal and get better. It looks like a five-star hotel with operable windows in patient care suites and where it is located on the site.”

Edson Healthcare Centre’s design brings the outdoors in, creating a serene setting for patients. Glass panels depicting mountain scenes and various nature settings are located inside patient areas and outdoor courtyards, providing a relaxing setting for patients. “We have a central courtyard with a path that winds out into the trees and back around so patients have the ability to go on a walk,” Coffin explains. “The continuing care wing has a square shaped courtyard and really gives the patients a connection to the outside. Nature is calming and healing.”

The healthcare facility is also LEED-certified, and Coffin says a lot of thought was put into sourcing sustainable and durable materials throughout the building. “We used standard materials, but with an elevated finish,” she notes.

Logistical Success

As the project’s construction manager, Coffin says one of Stuart Olson’s biggest challenges was working from outside Edson and bringing subcontractors from urban centers to a smaller rural setting. “When you have a project like this, we have to make sure we have covered everything,” she adds. “For example, we needed to closely coordinate staffing levels to meet the volume of work and ensure we stayed on schedule and budget.”

Before construction began, Stuart Olson opened a public tender to procure subcontractors for the Edson Healthcare Centre. “After the tender closed, we met with each contractor to make sure they could meet our expectations and that they fully understood scope of the work,” Coffin says. “I think that upfront meeting with the trades and laying out our expectations, schedule and budget helped us overcome some of the challenge of building in a small town rural setting. We made sure they knew about the challenges such as ensuring the required accommodations for their people. It’s all about that extra layer of coordination for them.”

During the construction process, Stuart Olson drew upon its years of knowledge in building healthcare facilities for the challenges it faced. “We perform a lot of healthcare work and have three projects going on right now,” Coffin says. “That’s a huge benefit for us because we have other teams that we can draw on their knowledge of healthcare-specific challenges and bounce ideas off of them. It is important to ask those questions and find out what other teams have done to mitigate problems.”  

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