Use of prefabrication shaved a year and millions off hospital's construction cost

The use of prefabricated materials on a Denver hospital shaved months and millions off the construction cost, the Denver Post reported.

Prefabricated units were used to construct 440 bathroom pods in patient rooms, along with plumbing and electric conduit panels that were placed over exterior walls. Those panels were then essentially "stitched together" to create working plumbing and electrical systems, according to the article.

The use of prefabrication cut a year off constructing the facility, which has 360 beds and 831,000 square feet of space. It also slashed about $4.3 million in costs--a 7 percent overall reduction--and 29,500 hours of labor. And the specially-designed pods also avoid one of the biggest problems for patient bathrooms: leaks due to showers lacking lips or ledges to contain water. The pods are each pitched specifically to contain water.

"This is really a four-year project that we are doing in three," Exempla/Saint Joseph Hospital Chief Executive Officer Bain J. Farris told the Denver Post.

Although hospital construction is currently in a boom mode, costs for some of the projects give healthcare finance executives pause. A replacement facility for Long Island College Hospital may cost more than $1 billion; Johns Hopkins own facility cost $1.1 billion. And a Veterans Affairs hospital being built in Denver is about $500 million over budget. But many organizations pursue smaller projects, such as Norton Healthcare's conversion of an existing facility into a hospital for women and children, and a variety of emergency department overhauls and expansions.

Prefabrication in hospital construction is slowly being adopted. One other major project, the Miami Valley Hospital Heart and Orthopedic Center, had many major prefabricated components and opened about four years ago, which reduced construction time about two months. It also used a prefabricated temporary pedestrian bridge widely used by airports, which saved about $1.2 million over building a bridge from scratch.

To learn more:
- read the Denver Post article
- here's information about the Miami Valley Hospital project

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