Construction on the LGH expansion, which will provide private rooms for patients, is now back on track after a temporary pause.
As an engineer, Steve Lee is wired to solve problems.
That ability came in handy in February, when Lee started his new job as Lancaster General Health Vice President, Facilities Planning.
After learning that the Lancaster General Hospital expansion was over budget, LG Health leaders decided to temporarily pause construction work. Lee used the time to collaborate with design and construction professionals to study the plans and understand the project, in order to make adjustments that would be within the project’s $67.3 million budget. Construction on the expansion, which will provide private rooms for patients, is now back on track.
It has been a bit of a baptism by fire, but Lee has enjoyed the challenge.
“I’d rather understand the budget challenges on the expansion now rather than 6 months from now, after major construction would be underway,” he said. “As challenging as it was to make changes at this stage, it would have been nearly impossible later in the process.”
Lee joined LG Health after 15 years with Benchmark Construction, most recently as Vice President of Health Care, where his most notable projects with LG Health included the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute and the Orthopedic Center. A Pennsylvania native and graduate of Penn State University, Lee previously worked as a design consultant, starting with an engineering firm in Richmond, Va.
“After 23 years as a designer and a builder, it seemed fitting to expand my career to the owner’s side of project delivery,” he said. “What I’ve always enjoyed most about projects is the teaming and collaboration.”
Lee quickly familiarized himself with LG Health’s three major capital projects: the LGH expansion, energy center and new home for the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences.
He learned that several decisions made over the past year during the design process resulted in increased scope of the LGH expansion. For example, reconfiguring elevators pushed the building slightly to the south, which meant moving foundations and infrastructure underground, adding millions to the project’s cost.
“Losing some time now was better than unnecessarily spending more money,” Lee said. “There was no defined date to open the expansion, and that worked to our advantage. Once the scope and budget are committed, we can begin to accelerate the schedule.”
Though the project has caused some inconveniences, including relocation of the storage rooms and patient transport routes, Lee said creating minimal disruption to patient care is always at top of mind. He hopes crews will return to demolition on the site in May, begin pouring concrete for the foundation in June and July, and “go vertical” with the steel by August.
The top three floors of the addition (floors 6 through 8) will be outfitted first, with shell space on the floors below. LGH leaders currently are deciding which patient populations will occupy the addition and how to most efficiently service the new area.
Lee expects the expansion will be complete in spring 2018. LG Health has several other projects in the pipeline, including practice and ambulatory renovations, he said. Design meetings for the proposed behavioral health facility will start soon.
On the positive side, Lee said the project's challenges helped him become familiar with the LGH expansion project, the organization and its people very quickly.
“I’m an engineer by trade,” he said. “If something wasn’t broken that needed to be fixed, I would be bored.”