Parkland Health & Hospital System

Since 1894, Parkland has established a legacy of healthcare in Dallas County, Texas. Now, the hospital plans to move to a new facility that will allow it to continue serving patients’ medical needs. Walter Jones, Parkland’s senior vice president of facilities, says the $1.27 billion campus is being built across the street from the hospital’s current location, which has long been overcrowded. When the original facility was built in 1954, it only served half the patients that it has today.

The finished facility, he explains, will cover 2.5 million square feet and house 865 private rooms, 27 surgery suites and 108 emergency examination spaces. Construction started last year, and the project is expected to be finished in the fall of 2014.

 The new hospital has been in development since the late 1990s, Jones says. In a November 2008 bond election, the voters of Dallas County agreed to fund $747 million of the $1.27 billion project. “We had an overwhelming 82 percent approval from the Dallas County voters,” he says.

Centered on Healing

The construction manager for Parkland is BARA, a joint venture team of various construction firms: Balfour Beatty Construction, Austin Commercial, H.J. Russell & Co. and Azteca Enterprises.

So far, 15 percent of the project is finished, which includes the topping out of the new hospital’s parking deck. Additionally, the project team has finished the concrete for nine floors of a patient tower, and the majority of a four-story podium that the tower will sit on. Parkland will begin using the new parking deck in January, so an existing garage can be demolished to make way for part of a new patient tower and clinic building as part of the new construction.

Jones says he is proud of how the project has been organized. For instance, the contractors have moved into a nearby co-location site where they have “garnered a lot of efficiency, collaboration, cooperation and benefits for me as an owner,” he says.

“We’re on schedule and under budget, and I think it’s due to the way that these firms have been able to collaborate over this long period of time,” Jones continues. “We have been able to achieve a lot of the goals.” 

Although the New Parkland Hospital is an academic medical center, the design has a net to gross efficiency of most community hospitals, Jones says. “We’re very happy that we’re able to achieve that,” he says.

“That saves us money [and] we are able to keep the cost of the construction very competitive and very low compared to other academic medical centers,” he says. “We’ve been able to provide a very pleasant environment for our patients. Our goal is to make a patient-centered healing environment.”

Parkland’s construction has not been without its challenges, Jones admits. “This may be the largest greenfield healthcare project in the country, both in terms of size and cost,” he declares, explaining that the scope makes it more complex.

Another challenge is the evolving health world. The facility will not move in patients until 2015, and a lot can happen in four years. “The world of healthcare [is in] a constant flux,” he says. “We don’t know what healthcare is going to do.”

However, “We’re making the best plans that we can for our facility to be flexible [so it] can adjust to what the healthcare service environment will be,” he says. For example, the project team has placed extra conduit space to accommodate upcoming, but unknown technological advances. It also designed all of its private patient rooms to be the same size so that they can adapt to any clinical service.

Demonstrating Green

Parkland is aiming for LEED Silver accreditation, which is an area where Jones wanted the facility to distinguish itself. “I directed the designers and engineers to use devices and techniques that were embedded as part of the overall design,” he says.

Too many other structures, he explains, have green features that feel like they were added on at the last second to make them sustainable. The new hospital will have drought tolerant landscaping and high-efficiency equipment in its central utility plant. The hospital is designed with water saving fixtures to reduce potable water use by 25 percent, low VOC emitting materials and a cool roof.

The construction recycles 75 percent of waste materials. “I think we’ve used a very practical approach to our sustainability initiative in the hospital,” he says.

There will be a photovoltaic system on the building’s parking deck, however. Although it is not a large-scale system, “It will provide enough power for two floors of our parking garage,” Jones says.

Top Team

Jones says he is pleased with the multiple construction teams for the different buildings on the new campus. In the hiring stage, “We went through a very careful selection process,” he says, adding that Parkland sought to find high-quality contractors. “We think we succeeded.

“They’re very focused on achieving success,” Jones continues, noting that Parkland has appreciated the way the contractors have focused on the schedule. “They’re also cooperating very well with each other on a site that can become very tight when multiple companies are involved.

“We [also] have not had any problems with ... the subcontractors,” Jones says, noting that the feeling appears to be mutual. Parkland made a commitment to process pay applications in 30 days or less on the project, and have succeeded every month to date. “I think our subcontractors have been very happy [with the work conditions].”

Although Parkland does not have another large project set up after this one, Jones is confident that more projects lie ahead. “Parkland has about a dozen community oriented primary clinics (COPC),” he says. 

“Strategically, there is a need to expand that system,” he says. “There will be ongoing capital work. I’m sure of it.”

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