The replacement hospital being built at Fort Leonard Wood continues steady progress on schedule for completion in 2024. The Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has oversight on the project with JE Dunn Construction, based in Kansas City, providing the construction and RLF Architects of Orlando, Florida, as the architects, teamed up for the design/build project.
Located on 52 acres in the heart of the Army post, the new hospital is near the current General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. The new state-of-the-art facility will include a 235,400 square-foot hospital, a clinic with over 193,000 square-feet, a modern central facility plant, emergency back-up generators, a new helipad, a five-bay ambulance garage and supporting facilities. The current value of the contract is just over $302 million.
The new hospital complex will serve military members, 5,700 active duty and 20,400 trainees, as well as their families. Additionally, over 3,500 retirees in the surrounding area are served. A Department of Defense-Veterans Administration Healthcare Agreement allows veterans assigned to all five Missouri VA hospitals to receive care at the hospital and clinic.
“What’s unique about this project is that we as the Kansas City District took the lessons learned from previous hospital and other mega projects. The key lesson learned is that you need a partnership approach to deliver these complex projects on time and on budget. The tool we are using is Collaborative Analytics to get that partnership mindset,” said Col. Travis Rayfield, commander, Kansas City District.
As the construction managers, the Kansas City District, has a team on-site and additional personnel working from Kansas City and virtually to support the hospital replacement project, which will replace the oldest hospital in the Army inventory. Some previous Army hospital projects have had challenges meeting time lines for completion and suffered related cost overruns.
“Success on the project to date is simply defined by those three buzz words we’ve been hearing of for years: transparency, collaboration and partnering. USACE, JE Dunn along with the many trade partners have truly embraced these practices on this project. The ability to meet and openly discuss any issue, as one team, brings effective resolution promptly,” said Mark French, Quality Assurance Section Chief, Kansas City District, Replacement Hospital project.
Leaders of the project for USACE chose Collaborative Analytics as a partnering strategy which would enhance team collaboration. Due to the complexity of modern medicine, hospitals are some of the most challenging facility types to design and construct. Leaders must consider the constant evolution of technology that medical professionals use to deliver state-of-the-art care for their patients.
“We identified a lack of collaboration amongst the stakeholders as a significant project risk. This isn’t surprising when you examine the number of team members and stakeholder organizations involved. Given the risks associated with such a large and diverse project team, we sought additional partnering strategies and chose a tool called Collaborative Analytics, said Kelly Miller, Program Manager, Kansas City District, Fort Leonard Wood Replacement Hospital project.
Collaborative Analytics provides a dashboard of early indicators that allow project team leaders to identify stress within the team. The service provider, University Research Institute, worked with the team to establish a set of survey questions focused on communication, engagement, quality of work, innovation, organization, accountability, level of support and team environment. Monthly team surveys are anonymous and take about 10 minutes to complete. URI analyzes the survey data using its proprietary software, summarizes the results, and prepares standardized reports including trend analysis.
Miller said these reports are initially provided to a group of team leaders called the Collaborative Analytics Subgroup Leadership Team, or CASL Team. These leaders meet monthly to discuss the survey results and develop corrective actions when necessary. The final step in the monthly cycle is that the survey results and proposed corrective actions are shared with the entire project team.
“One of the key benefits of Collaborative Analytics is the ability to identify collaboration issues while there is still time to affect the outcome. Additionally, all the attention being focused on collaboration and improving our partnership has resulted in a better understanding and appreciation of our different perspectives, and how these often lead to better outcomes. Over time our partnering initiatives, including Collaborative Analytics, have helped establish a level of high degree of trust between team members,” said Miller.
“There has been a clear commitment from day one to truly collaborate on this project, said Bob Latas, Vice President of JE Dunn Construction Company. Together, we developed an approach that keeps collaboration in focus throughout the overall lifecycle of the project. We see Collaborative Analytics as a potential game changer for the project and this team.”
“The monthly survey results provide real-time feedback from all the project stake holders. This includes the entire project delivery team, many of our trade partners, and our internal JE Dunn team. This feedback provides an opportunity to see what is working well for the team. The survey results also helps us identify trends where we can focus on better collaboration and teamwork.”
Latas indicated this helps us to be better listeners while also driving candid conversations about the challenging issues when needed. Ultimately, he said this has helped to build a higher level of trust which is key to truly collaborating on this project.
The long-term benefits for the Fort Leonard Wood Community will include renovation of the existing optical fabrication lab and parking improvements slated to follow the demolition of the existing hospital, giving the community vastly upgraded facilities to support their health care needs.
About the writer: James F. Lowe, retired from the U.S. Army after 25+ years with time spent in Korea, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar as well as almost 10 years with the 101st Airborne Division. He moved from being a military paralegal soldier, to a Logistics officer then spent his last 12 years as a Public Affairs officer. He has worked for the Kansas City District Public Affairs office for the last 4+ years with writing, communications planning and social media as his primary areas of focus.
Ms. Reagan Zimmerman has spent the last 4 years in the communications industry while simultaneously earning her degree. Ms. Zimmerman is a recent graduate with a Journalism Bachelor of Arts degree from the university of Wisconsin-Madison with an emphasis in reporting and strategic communication. During that time, she also chased her passion for telling the Army story through positions with Army Cadet Command and the UW-Madison Army ROTC Battalion.
This article originally appeared in the Army Engineer Magazine, October 2021 issue.