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A race against winter: St. Alexius Medical Plaza

The once-considered remote land of Minot, N.D. recently experienced a boom in the area. Due to oil and gas wells situated in the Bakken formation of the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Minot population doubled with an influx of oil workers and support services to the area. Until the increased oil and gas well work in the area, the Minot Air Force Base mostly only populated Minot. NexCore Group, a Denver-based healthcare developer, identified the need for additional medical services for the growing community and broke ground on the St. Alexius Medical Plaza (SAMC) in June 2014.

NEXCORE_2014-Apr-21_SOUTH“The new Medical Plaza will allow SAMC to recruit additional physicians to the Minot community and provide specialty services that patients want closer to home,” John Duncan, senior vice president of development and construction at NexCore Group, said.

With extreme North Dakota winters scheduled to begin in October, the Wilhelm construction management team prepared for unique circumstances in the area. The northern Minot location presented challenges to construction planning for the 62,733 square-foot facility, which includes a concrete foundation, structural steel frame and precast concrete wall panels with brick inlays.

Wilhelm had to address construction labor shortage in the area by enlisting workers from Fargo, Bismarck and Minnesota in addition to Minot locals. Though somewhat distant, Kent Forman, project manager for Wilhelm Construction, said these workers are local by Minot standards. Work crews started long hours for the summer to make up for work that can be missed in the long winter months.

Due to the extreme cold, the precast panels were designed to extend four feet below the finished floor slab, and the underground water requirement was a minimum of six feet. Additionally, the Wilhelm team anticipated the need for strategic material delivery to negate delays from road weight restrictions during spring thawing conditions, which impact deliveries from March to June.

“We’re using precast wall panels,” Forman said “They are pretty heavy and deliveries are limited to the summer months.”

Designed to include a clinic of 54 exam rooms and six procedure rooms, an optical center, laboratory, imaging, pharmacy, therapy and administration, the St. Alexius Medical Plaza is scheduled for July 2015 completion.

“The project design will foster cooperation among providers, which is intended to promote positive patient outcomes and increase operational efficiencies,” Duncan said. “The design supports an operational model that SAMC adopted after undertaking LEAN planning exercises to eliminate waste and improve clinical performance. For example, the larger floor plates of the facility will enable the primary care and full-time specialty physicians to practice on the same floor while the open plan of each care module will foster collaboration among staff and providers.”

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