From the extreme desert of the west Texas City of El Paso, about 12 miles from the base of the Franklin Mountains, a new era in medical care for the Fort Bliss Military community will rise. The picturesque mountains will provide a scenic backdrop for the patients and staff of the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
The new facility will be turned over later this month by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District, to move into the outfitting phase of the project. This will continue the legacy of care for military personnel and their families and the community that began in 1921.
"This facility highlights the best in USACE engineering and construction," said Brig. Gen. Paul. E. Owen, commander, Southwestern Division. "Together, with our many partners, we have incorporated the principles of quality engineering, quality construction and quality care to deliver a world-class facility to our Soldiers and their families."
The new campus consists of a seven-story hospital, five supporting buildings, including an in-patient clinic, out-patient clinic, administrative building, clinical investigation building and a central utility plant. The medical center will also include 135 hospital beds, 10 operating rooms and 30 specialty clinics.
An increase in population resulting from Army Base Realignment and Closure and Army Grow the Force initiatives required a modern medical campus for the provision of inpatient and outpatient care to the Fort Bliss beneficiary population. The 1.1 million square-foot, world-class health-care campus replaces a facility nearing 50 years in age that is much smaller and located on a constrained site away from major troop populations.
To complete a “mega-project” like the replacement hospital, the District’s project delivery team, or PDT, worked together with WBAMC and Health Facility Planning Agency to incorporate state-of-the-art family and patient-centered care features.
According to Construction Manager Brad Hartell, the PDT provided guidance to the team, looking ahead at key features of work and elements, identifying opportunities for mock-ups and early initial inspections to ensure alignment on the quality of the installation.
“Each building had a unique program purpose, resulting in unique spaces, rooms and systems serving those areas. The use of the space required different coordination, equipment and collaboration in order to complete the areas,” said Hartell.
Unlike typical military construction projects, a medical facility of this magnitude comes with added complexities and challenges, Hartell said.
“There is very little repetition in a hospital, in particular in the diagnostic and treatment spaces. In addition to a spectrum of program spaces from chapels and kitchen and dining facilities, to patient rooms and operating rooms, to lab spaces and meditation gardens, the quantity and density of data systems and hospital equipment pose unique challenges,” he said.
Other engineering features of the facility include, a movement-resisting steel frame structure with a side plate connection system and a concrete and metal deck composite floor system in the in-patient and out-patient facilities that will help the buildings withstand the effects of seismic activity.
Also, inclusion of highly absorbent ceiling tiles and flooring surfaces, as well as ceiling-mounted patient lifts, will ease stress and reduce injuries for both patients and medical staff. All patient rooms are private, with space for family members.
“There were also different finishing components on each building, and the way the components interact differently between facilities,” said Hartell. Finishes, both exterior and interior include native stone, as well as colors, patterns and textures that are akin to the culture and geography of the area. Spacious windows will allow an abundance of natural light deep into the buildings. This also allows for nature and garden views along with the nearby Franklin Mountains.
“All the elements come together to meet exterior aesthetics, as well as the quality of the patient and staff experience inside the building,” Hartell said.
Just as majestic as the mountains to the west, new WBAMC will be a modern medical campus showcasing the tenants of quality engineering, quality construction and quality care.
“The Fort Worth District and all project delivery team members throughout USACE are proud to have been a part of delivering the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center to the Fort Bliss community,” said Col. Kenneth Reed, commander, Fort Worth District. “This project will have a significant positive impact on the military community in El Paso and the surrounding area and will help care providers deliver high quality healthcare to support our service members and their families for many years to come.”