Early site works well underway at WLMH
With the ground officially “broken” on the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH), attention has quickly turned toward prepping the site for the build.
Early site works, which generally refers to activities required to prepare the site for construction, have been taking place since the end of April. This includes removing trees which were in the path of construction (35 were removed, with 122 new trees to be planted over the course of the project), locating and moving existing mechanical systems, and decommissioning some physical spaces connected to the existing hospital.
“Depending on the site, there can be significant work needed to make it a safe, blank slate for excavation,” said Kelly Campbell, VP, Corporate Services and Capital Development at Hamilton Health Sciences. “The WLMH build site is pretty open, but it has a relatively small footprint so there is some demolition work that needs to be done ahead of construction. From the street, it may not look like much is happening at the moment, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and on site.”
Notably, there is a service corridor connecting the existing hospital and Deer Park Villa located at the north end of the property. This enclosed walkway, which includes the WLMH kitchen used by hospital Nutrition Services, will be need to be removed ahead of construction. A new home for Nutrition Services – the team and area responsible for feeding inpatients – has been created inside the hospital and the walkway will soon be hoarded off and taken down.
Another early works change happening at the site will involve an alternate plan for some site parking. Parts of the existing lot will be converted to construction access, and hoarding is planned to be erected during the coming month. To offset parking demand at the site, HHS has struck a partnership with a nearby church for staff and physician parking through the week. Parking spaces at the site will be reserved for patients and families, and a small number for emergency on-call physicians.
“We knew from the beginning that access to the build site and parking would be something we need to address. With the support of our church partner, we’ve created a suitable off-site parking arrangement for our staff and physicians during the construction period,” said Campbell, noting that once the new hospital is built and the existing hospital is removed, on-site parking at WLMH will grow considerably.
Probably the biggest change in the coming weeks will be the addition of construction office trailers at the front of the hospital. While not an early site work per se, nothing screams progress like a build team setting up a field office on-site. Once positioned, the trailers will be surrounded by hoarding and wrapped with project signage, creating a safe space on-site for project meetings to take place outside of the existing hospital building.
So, when will ground actually be broken on the new hospital?
“Early works will continue over the summer and into the beginning of fall, at which time excavation and construction can start. This will continue through to fall 2024, when we can start moving furniture and fixtures in and commissioning the building. Substantial Completion is targeted for early 2025 and patients will be able to receive care in the new hospital shortly after that,” said Campbell.