About 60 percent complete, the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is changing the Killeen and Fort Hood skyline. Currently more than 1,200 skilled workers converge on the construction site daily to complete the many tasks comprising this monumental construction effort.
Richard Alexander, Fort Worth District construction manager and area engineer, said the project’s construction is scheduled for completion in 2014, with doors opening for patients the summer of 2015.
The corps and its partner, Balfour Beatty-McCarthy are confident these milestones will be met despite having to overcome a few challenges. The biggest challenge was the weather, where the team fought through 50 days of delays caused by heavy rains and wind that occurred during critical stages of construction.
“That’s hard to believe based on the current drought conditions, but at the onset of construction we were delayed due to rain,” said Mark McElroy, project executive for Balfour Beatty-McCarthy.
With the conclusion of the Topping Out ceremony in May, which signified the placing of the last beam, all that could be seen from the project site were the basic “guts” of the structure — beams, concrete slabs and frame and foundation work.
Just four months later, the hospital structure looks more like the rendering of the completed project, and inside corridors of various wards are coming together. From the back of the hospital complex, the tiered effect of the building’s six stories can be seen, as well as the delivery area taking shape below ground.
The team now anticipates increasing the number of skilled workers. Project leaders estimate that up to 1,500 workers will be on hand during peak construction. This poses yet another challenge, as competing construction projects in the area make skilled workers hard to come by.
Although the team has faced with challenges, one factor seems to resonate as the single most important aspect of obtaining project success.
“Communication is the key to the success of the project, and we talk with our partners on the status and challenges of the project on a routine basis,” Alexander said. “We may not agree on all matters, but putting everything out there and being transparent has created a level of trust among the team you just don’t see every day.”
The new Darnall team believes the project’s greatest impact will be to the Fort Hood community which will benefit from the hospital’s.
“One of the greatest accomplishments for the project will be the quality facility we will be able provide so world class medical care can be provided to the soldiers, family members and retires of Central Texas,” Alexander said. “Many businesses base their return on investment on the amount of money a project makes for them to recover their investment; however, with the Fort Hood Hospital, the (return) in this team’s mind is the quality care that will come from this facility for our soldiers.”