A relatively straightforward project became anything but during a time of severe demand on the NHS. It was the responsibility of CSC Services to deliver this concrete repair project in a way that recognised the specific needs of the hospital at the time.
CSC Services was approached by North Tees & Hartlepool Trust to carry out this much-needed repair on the hospital site, originally built in 1974. Having previously been threatened with closure in 2011, the hospital required an aesthetically-pleasing solution that would also repair and protect the original concrete façade and extend the life of the building. CSC Services had previously carried out concrete repair works on the hospital and so understood the specifics of the building and its surrounding environment.
Breathing new life into an old building requires not only technical expertise but also a considered eye for the solutions that will best meet the aesthetic needs of the structure. Patient confidence could be directly impacted by their perception and impression of the building in which they are being cared for.
“CSC Services went above and beyond the service level expected on a project of this nature. Our hospital teams were working in demanding environments with very vulnerable patients, including I.T.U and the neo-natal unit. CSC Services understood the burdens immediately and adapted their working practices to put our needs first.” GLEN NEWBY, Design & Development Manager, NHSGLEN NEWBY Design & Development Manager, NHS
A 6-8-Stage Sika Repair & Protect System
As a fully qualified and experienced concrete repair contractor, the project itself presented a relatively straightforward assignment.
Carried out in 2 phases, with a total of 950m2 in phase 1 between August 2020 – January 2021 and 3000m2 in phase 2 between March 2021 – June 2021, the project used a Sika Repair & Protect System, incorporating the following products and stages:
These products were carefully selected alongside the supplier, Sika, to give long-lasting protection and provide a 10-year guarantee to first maintenance.
A challenging environment with numerous sensitivities and considerations.
Nearfield working across 7 floors of high-need care, including neo-natal, theatre and ITU units, during the one of the most demanding periods of the covid-19 pandemic, presented a number of unusual challenges that required an unprecedented level of collaborative working between CSC Services and NHS staff members at every level.
A combination of a sensitive working environment, in difficult cirumstances and with varying environmental influences, generated daily changes in working conditions, to which the team had to react and adapt.
1. REDUCING NOISE FOR NEO-NATAL AND ITU WARDS
CHALLENGE: Babies in the neo-natal unit are particularly sensitive to noise, not being able to withstand levels greater than 50db (a whisper.) The CSC Services team was working a matter of feet away from these vulnerable patients, with only a window as a barrier, and sometimes with particularly noisy tasks such as concrete removal.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: The team worked with individual wards on a daily basis to understand any patient care requirements that would impact project work. Depending on circumstances, “noisy days” were arranged where this work could be completed, ear muffs were given to babies and ward movements were carefully planned to tie in with work. Non-noisy work was then planned for days where quiet wasn’t required. This daily communication ensured that both the NHS teams and also CSC Services could complete their work efficiently and with minimal disruption to the other party.
2. AN ALREADY OVER-STRETCHED NHS IN UNPRECEDENTED TIMES
CHALLENGE: In addition to the neo-natal ward, the work on the façade was also in close proximity to the ITUs on floors 1 and 2. The covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the requirement for sensitive working as other wards were also transformed into ITUs to cope with poorly covid patients and beds and theatres were stretched to levels not seen before. This meant a high level of sensitivity within the hospital environment that had to be carefully managed within work planning and communications.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: It was crucial that the team worked collaboratively with the NHS project manager, matrons and doctors on all wards to ensure no adverse impact on patient care. Daily talks with key hospital workers and the project manager quickly became part of the standard project procedures.
3. REMOVING RISK TO THEATRES
CHALLENGE: The work was also completed in close proximity to the surgical theatres, with numerous, critical supply cables for theatre equipment often within the working areas of the concrete repair team.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: Strict procedures and protocols were adhered to, with additional protection measures, to ensure no damage to these cables. Dustless working methods were employed to ensure no contamination to protected patient areas.
4. ENSURING SECURITY
CHALLENGE: Scaffolding presents its own dangers in offering an invitation to those who may not be able to judge their actions clearly when given an opportunity to climb, particularly around hospitals, where patients may be mentally unwell.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: Secure gates and compound lock-ups, as well as anti-scale protection around the scaffolding, were introduced into the project very early on.
5. RESTRICTED ACCESS
CHALLENGE: Access on the project was difficult in a number of ways. With 7 floors to cover and a building that had been added to over the last 50 years, it created a unique set of circumstances in which to erect and use scaffolding. Given the nature of the site, in that it had a number of “add-on” structures to the main building, access was particularly difficult. This necessitated the CSC Services project team using all of their qualifications and skills in; working at heights; specialist access; IPAF and PASMA training.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: The project team used a series of innovative hybrid access solutions, combining traditional scaffolding with access cradles supplied by sub-contract partners, JMAC Scaffolding Limited and Apollo Cradles Limited.
Two floors were wrapped in scaffolding to provide a platform for the cradles, which carried a safety factor of 3 and could be moved to different locations. This approach allowed the team to use site preparation and mobilisation time, shortening programme duration and ultimately reducing overall project cost.
This method meant that the team was able to access all required areas through the externally-erected scaffolding rather than internally, through the hospital. This removed any associated risks of patient/staff/CSC Services contact– particularly important during the covid-19 pandemic.
CHALLENGE: The tunnelling effect of the wind (worsened by the layout of a series of large structures at the hospital) and the general weather conditions covering the UK in late 2020, made careful and considerate planning an essential part of the project.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: The team worked through all conditions possible, maximising use of dry days when possible and pushing project times to make best use of available weather.
The cradles worked with the aid of guide ropes to give additional stability and reduce swing, and daily pre-work & regular wind checks with an anonometer ensured optimal safety and working conditions on site at all time.
7. JUGGLING IMPACT OF PANDEMIC ON STAFFING AND OTHER CONTRACTORS
CHALLENGE: On this busy hospital site, at any one time a number of other contractors would be working. This was aggravated by the pandemic and requirement for a higher than usual level of unplanned contractors. At the same time, CSC Services was managing its own employee fluctuations due to isolation and guidelines.
CSC SERVICES RESPONSE: The team protocol safeguarded being made aware of other contractor work and ensuring the CSC Services employees remained flexible and were briefed on contractor impact whenever required. Robust safety procedures allowed team members to continue to operate and ensure programme deadlines were met, even when working in these varying circumstances. CSC Services also regularly developed training and working procedures to react to changing guidelines around covid-19 safe working, working closely with the hospital alongside their internal rules.
“At a time of extreme demand on our services within the hospital due to COVID 19 we were taken aback by the care and consideration that CSC Services gave our situation. Every request was taken into account and all of our departments were impressed and grateful for the proactive and unique approach that the project team took to ensure our patient care was not disrupted.”GLEN NEWBY Design & Development Manager, NHS
A successful project outcome, delivered to client requirements
This project presented a unique set of challenges, wherein the client (University Hospital of North Tees), already working in an unprecedented level of demand with highly vulnerable patients, faced potential disruption to patient care through the repair work being carried out.
The CSC Services team pivoted their standard working practices to put client first and introduced daily collaboration and engagement with the hospital teams, initiating new procedures that minimised disruption.
Despite a daily changing landscape the team ensured careful planning, communication and implementation that meant work continued to be scheduled and completed and the project was delivered on time, on budget and to met the full specification.
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