New hospital is structurally sound, says management - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

New hospital is structurally sound, says management

Posted: Updated:
 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - While we're just months away until its projected opening date, the management and contractor of the Guam Regional Medical City wants to dispel any rumors about structural deficiencies with the new hospital building.

"This building is structurally sound, it always has been, it always will be, it will be perfect when we turn it over to the hospital - and that's the end of the conversation folks," assured Donald Hergenreder. The DCK Pacific Guam project director who is overseeing the construction of the new Guam Regional Medical City. But until the new hospital is turned over and opens later this year, some construction matters need to be addressed first. For instance, an issue regarding couplers and rebar repair.

"What we found was there was a failure of this connection. Period. Nothing more than that we saw a minor crack several months ago, it was maybe a 16th of an inch wide," he said.

A coupler is designed to connect one piece of rebar to another. That minor crack was thought to be a result of the building temperature reaction following the installation of the air conditioning. "Then we had that earthquake event when that happened, we kept monitoring it, and it appeared to us the crack had opened a little more we weren't satisfied to just plaster it over and forget about it so we opened it up and found some of these couplers had stressed and failed and that was the end of it," he said.

It was the temblor of September 17, 2014 measured at 6.7 on the Richter Scale - coincidentally the day media were last invited to a tour of the hospital. Hergenreder says an international structural steel consultant conducted testing and recommended to replace the couplers, rethread it and put in new rebar. "We have to open up areas, we have to take, remove those couplers where those rebar tips, put the new ones in and then concrete over it," he said.

There are hundreds of couplers located throughout several places in the five-story building. DCK Pacific Guam has until February to make all the repairs. And while the repairs are being done, what's the status on the rest of the hospital? "Radiology is 99% done what we need to do is install our work stations and the equipment is ready to operate," he said. "We can't operate radiology without the rest of the building, but we're there."

According to chief operating officer Gloria Long, 95% of the first floor is complete, 85% of the second floor is done and the next step is completing the patient rooms. The hospital is still on budget estimated to cost around $217 million.

In the meantime, GRMC is expected to begin installation of the telephone lines, computer systems and medical equipment in the next six weeks. As for the opening of the new hospital, it is still on track for the end of the first quarter and the early part of the second quarter of this year. 
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