New hospital progressing, officials say

BY IAN MURPHY | MARCH 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa Health Care officials said despite the harsh winter weather, the new Children’s Hospital is on schedule and on budget — and as they continue to work, they are making sure the building is going to last.

The new hospital is approximately 30 percent complete and has moved into the tower-construction phase. The new underground parking ramp is almost 62 percent complete, said Ken Kates, the  UIHC CEO. Officials do not expect the project to exceed its $292 million budget.

In the coming months, workers will continue to build upon the base of the building.

“For the next few months, the activity for the Children’s Hospital will be on pouring concrete and tying steel reinforcing,” Kates said. “So far, 20,000 cubic yards of concrete have been poured, so about 40 percent of the total.”

During the construction period, officials have also focused on ensuring the building can withstand severe weather conditions. Construction on the exterior of the building will begin in July.

There will be 186 floor-to-ceiling patient room windows in the building, which Kates said will provide great views and natural light for patients, family, and staff.

“Each window weighs 1,750 pounds,” Kates said, “The building has been designed to be high performing during severe weather.”

In addition to the views the windows provide, it will also provide patients, staff, and families with safety in the event of an emergency.

The windows have four layers of heat-treated glass and two safety inner layers designed to resist projectiles and debris.

“We’ve done extensive testing to make sure they are safe,” Kates said.

Kates said experts have fired projectiles at speeds of over 85 mph at the windows without causing damage.

“The good thing is it did not penetrate inside the room,” he said.

As the windows are being installed, officials continue to look ahead.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he is excited the hospital is on track and on budget.

“Patients and families are also excited and looking forward to having it open,” Moore said. “[It’s] less than two years away.” 

With the concrete poured for both the first and second levels, Kates said the anticipation is building.

“There continues to be great excitement and enthusiasm about this project,” he said.

Kates said plastic partitions and hot-water lines are being used as heat in order to continue to pour concrete in the winter.

The windows will overlook much of Iowa City, and the western windows will look down into Kinnick Stadium.

As the construction continues, the workers are reaching out to the families who may eventually occupy the building. Workers have hidden clues throughout the worksite and have visited with patients, helping them find those clues.

The new hospital building will have 189 beds, which is a 25 percent increase over current numbers.

There will be 87 natal-intensive-care beds and will have 28 pediatric and pediatric cardiac intensive care unit beds. The surgery and cancer units will have 74 beds at the new facility.

As the construction continues, other UI and state officials are excited to have the new facility open.“

It looks great,” Regent Nicole Carroll said.

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