Construction of the alternate care facility at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury on Long Island to facilitate care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients was completed May 3.
Under a Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignment, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District awarded a $116 million contract to AECOM Tishman to construct the 1,024-bed alternate care facility as part of the Army Corps effort in supporting the FEMA response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Speed and time are critical,” commented William Maher, New York District’s mission manager overseeing the project and coordinating with federal, state and local partners. “We’re meeting the challenge of building a high-quality patient care facility in a very short period of time.”
On site, Maher led a team of eight District staff from Construction, Engineering and Operations Divisions, along with employees from Contracting and the Office of Health and Occupational Safety supporting the effort.
Nearly 400 construction workers built four climate-controlled tents in a large expanse of athletic fields with another unit in the gymnasium. The facility is fully equipped with infrastructure expected in a hospital setting, including nurse’s stations, patient partitions, overhead lighting, medication rooms, and intercoms.
Overhead cameras have also been installed for medical staff to monitor patients when they are unable to be physically present in patient rooms and wards. Equipment has been brought in for restrooms and an information technology (IT) station as well.
New York District Commander Col. Thomas Asbery recently inspected the site with a large group of stakeholders, stopping at key points to discuss different aspects of the work and facility operations. After the tour, Col. Asbery took time to formally recognize project partners and District staff, including Ahmed Radwan, project engineer, Construction Division, and William Maher, mission manager, Engineering Division, recognizing superior performance and overall contributions.
Maher spoke about a working partnership with Northwell Health, the largest health-care system in New York. During construction, Maher met with them regularly to discuss details of facility operations, indicating some medical staff may temporarily relocate to the campus, having been offered accommodations in dormitories. Medical staff will be comprised, in part, from retired medical professionals who answered a call from New York State for volunteers.
Thomas Capowski, occupational health and safety specialist, visited the work site as well, and met with staff and Army Corps partners to review site safety plans. Capowski spoke about the importance of social distancing in limiting the spread of coronavirus and how specialized face coverings are important to protect workers.
The Army Corps of Engineers, as a whole, is executing a comprehensive national response for FEMA. As of May 1 there have been:
► 34 contracts for alternate care facilities across 16 states and the District of Columbia
► 63 mission assignments from FEMA totaling $1.8 billion
►1,130 site assessments completed
►1,278 personnel deployed to other locations
► 15,000+ Army Corps employees engaged and funded by FEMA
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal government’s lead public works and engineering support agency during emergencies. Public safety is the Corps’ top priority.