It’s been three years since ground was broken on the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Replacement Hospital, and now the new facility is quickly approaching a new major milestone: Drying in.
Drying-in is the process of weatherproofing a building, which means it receives a new exterior surface. Each element including the foundation, roof and walls is sealed to prevent water and wind from entering the building.
Erika Provinsal, deputy program manager with the Health Facility Planning Office, said drying-in is significant because it means the building is ready to have systems installed. It represents a shift from a structure to a functional building.
“Some of the many systems installed are the heating and/or cooling system, interior room and corridor walls,” Provinsal said. “All the sinks, cabinetry and other electrical and plumbing fixtures also will be installed at this time. Additionally, the electronic systems for nurse call, fire alarm, public address and security must have a weather-tight building to ensure proper functioning.”
Although the building looks finished from the outside, it still has a long way to go.
Now, hundreds of people will work for months to turn the completed building into a hospital.
The next flurry of activity is the installation of the furniture, medical and nonmedical equipment.
All of the new medical equipment will require calibration (adjustment after moving), certification and testing by qualified biomedical engineers prior to training and patient use.
Staff must be fully trained on each piece of equipment and oriented to the facility to learn where everything is located, Provinsal said.
While the new hospital continues to take shape physically, another building process also begun metaphorically: Transition.
Transition is an ongoing process to ensure the staff is ready to work in the new building once it’s complete, said Maj. Ira Waite, Darnall transition director.
“Running the day-to-day operations of a hospital can get hectic. Include multiple clinics and various outpatient services and you could have a recipe for chaos. The way people survive in this environment is by following routines as much as possible and adapting when necessary,” he said. “With the pending move into the new hospital building, the only way the staff will be prepared is to evaluate every routine and determine what will work in the new space and what will not.”
Staff training and education for the new facility and state-of-the-art equipment will officially begin about six months before the hospital opens, Waite said.
It will conclude with real-time training scenarios with about 300 staff members and volunteers.
“We will need real patients to participate and provide feedback on their perceptions,” Provinsal said. “This simulation will be a great opportunity to be a part of the legacy that is Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.”
Michel Landerman, training coordinator for U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency, contributed to this article.