CHELAN – Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) Project Manager Barry Leahy was the guest speaker at the Lake Chelan Rotary Club’s meeting Tuesday, Dec. 19, held at Tsillan Cellars in Chelan. Leahy boasts 36 experience overseeing major construction sites, including the Chelan Lake House. He has been involved in the vitality needs of LCCH for the past 13 years in one aspect or another.
Leahy stood in front of the Chelan Rotary member-filled dining area and began his introduction, stating a unique commonality shared with those in attendance. “I’m an old rotarian actually,” he began, “Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club, I was a member of that for almost 10 years,” he went on to mention that along with his decade of rotary service, he’s also acquired 12 years through the Seattle Downtown and Bellevue Kiwanis Clubs, “so, I am uniquely familiar with everything that rotary does.”
Hired by Larry Peterson about 13 years ago, Leahy has been following the hospital’s need for remodel and, now rebuild, from the beginning. “If the first bond issue for the remodel was going to pass, I was going to construct it,” he explained, then described his qualifications to the attendees, “for 36 years I have traveled everywhere overseeing construction projects. Some people hire me to buy the land, other people hire me to develop a property and they can construct it themselves, and other people hire me to do the whole thing,” he stated. In the case of the hospital build, he will be overseeing the design and development of the care facility. “Starting a project of this size takes some time because there’s a process,” he explained in regard to the timeframe of the build, “it has to be designed, and in this particular case, the Department of Health (DOH) has a lot of oversight, the USDA wants oversight, and our silent partner, which is the City of Chelan, which we’ve already met with and will permit this project for us to go forward.” Leahy addressed some talk of the build beginning before the winter of 2018, “frankly, I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that’s a prudent decision,” he expressed. The plan, as of now, is to break ground around March of 2019 he explained, bringing an anticipated completion sometime in September or October of 2020.
Hospital staff and board members traveled to Seattle, Wednesday, Nov. 15 to meet with Collins Woerman, architect on the build, and Bouten Construction, the general contractor on the build, in an introductory meeting. Bouten Construction is based out of Spokane, and was selected as the general contractor through interview selection process conducted by a consultant out of Bellevue. Washington State laws allow a selection process in lieu of bidding out the job, and Leahy preferred this option over the option to bid out. When bidding out jobs, he explained, any contractor in the United States could bid on the project, which is not always beneficial to the community he said, “because what does a contractor from Oklahoma know about the conditions of Lake Chelan when it comes to weather? Zero. That’s the answer, zero.” He emphasized that during the process some “fairly sizeable people” had been interviewed, after all was said and done, the available scoring revealed Bouten Construction as the best fit, “they are going to do a wonderful job for the citizens of Chelan,” he added confidently. “Bouten is a small, family-run business … but they work in and around eastern Washington, they’re very familiar with the weather conditions here, they’re very familiar with the subcontractor community here that’s going to supply manpower and materials for this site.” A member of the audience asked Leahy how many health care facilities Bouten Construction has completed, which in turn got a response in the ballpark of 10 or 12, “that’s (health care facilities) their primary focus,” explained Leahy, “They understand the environment of working in health care.”
The selected architect, Collins Woerman, is a firm that Leahy said he has worked with for the past 35 years, “I have done a tremendous amount of health care work with them,” he explained, “they’re very good, they’re very competent.” December 13 through 15, the entire development team, including architects, contractors, and management, collaborated in Chelan and met with the hospital staff, “and when I say staff,” Leahy joked, “I mean the entire staff at the hospital.” The goal for meeting with the staff was to get a realistic idea of the sizing needed to accommodate every aspect of the facility. “In the health care field, what drives the facility is technology,” he explained, “the doctors, the nurses and the staff need the most up-to-date technology. Unfortunately, sometimes that technology needs space.”
“There’s no way you can predict where the health care business is going past five years, but we’re going to try to design it,” Leahy stated. The hope is that the fully-designed facility will appropriate square footage needs in the new hospital. Once this step is complete, the process will move forward into formal designing and permitting by the DOH, USDA, and City of Chelan.
In regard to design, an inquiry was made as to how the new hospital will keep up with the needs of the community, if expansion is needed, will it grow up or out? Leahy explained that both options are being explored at this time. There are cost concerns with “growing up” that need to be address at the time of build, such as the affordability of the cost of footings and columns now for an additional level, as well as factoring in elevators and many other factors that need to be considered. “One-story facilities work the best if you can do it,” he said, “here you have the land to do it. You’re talking about expansion, so we’re evaluating whether we can afford to do something that can support a larger level sometime, or, do we design a facility that we can add a wing on at a future time? I think the staff, not speaking for them, I think they would say they would rather have a wing.”
“So, basically 2018 is preparing our permit documents for those three entities … and we’ll submit those to the city probably somewhere August or September of 2018,” he said, clarifying the timeframe.
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