Construction of the alternate care facility is progressing 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.
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 leads 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 who are supporting the effort.
Nearly 400 construction workers are building four climate-controlled tents in a large expanse of athletic fields with another unit in the gymnasium. Expected to be completed in late April, 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 in order for medical staff to monitor patients when they are unable to be physically inside the 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 inspected the site in mid-April. During a construction meeting with a large group of stakeholders he discussed project updates, followed by a tour of the site, stopping at key points to discuss different aspects of the work and facility operations.
Immediately following the tour, in an impromptu ceremony, Col. Asbery presented District employees Ahmed Radwan, project engineer, Construction Division, and William Maher, mission manager, Engineering Division, with Commander’s Coins recognizing their superior performance and overall contributions to the effort.
Maher spoke about a working partnership with Northwell Health, the largest health-care system in New York. Maher meets 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 mid-April there have been:
• 23 contracts for alternate care facilities across 13 states and the District of Columbia
• 44 mission assignments from FEMA totaling $1.7 billion
• 1,000+ site assessments
• 1,900+ 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.