As hospital ICU beds were filling up with coronavirus patients, Clovis Community Medical Center’s respiratory care reported a chilling fact: the hospital had only 20% of its oxygen reserves remaining. It was mid-December and the COVID-19 patient surge was predicted to get much worse. Already, older, smaller hospitals in the Los Angeles area had run out of oxygen and were scrambling to bring in portable supplies.
Alex Torres, director of facilities planning, construction and plant maintenance at Clovis Community, was listening to the twice-daily COVID-19 update calls when he heard the news. “We typically refill the oxygen tanks once a week during flu season, and once every two weeks during normal operations,” he explained. “In December, we were refilling the tank every other day” due to demands of the pandemic.
The hospital’s bulk oxygen yard was scheduled to be enlarged as part of the $430 million, 4-year expansion and renovation project to add a 144-bed, five-story tower, double ICU space, create six more operating rooms and expand the emergency department. But that part of the project wasn’t slated to be completed until February 2021 — two months too late.
Torres asked Clark Construction Group if they could accelerate their timeline to meet the urgent need.