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VA Hospital in CO Nears Completion $1B Over Budget

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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As construction nears completion for the Rocky Mountain Regional Veterans Affairs Medical Center, what remains in sharp focus is the $1 billion in cost overruns, and the fact that the new facility is limited in some key ways in comparison to the old, while also being subject to a number of construction errors.

Located in Aurora, Colorado, the medical center, once completed, will have fewer primary care teams and twice the square footage of the old hospital, noted Federal News Radio. Because of this reduction in available patient care resources, the VA will need to keep the existing hospital open for an additional three to five years.

Hospital Hiccups

With a final price tag of $2 billion, the new facility is 1.2 million square feet (compared to the old facility’s 600,000), and will have 3,208 personnel on staff. With the new space comes limitations, however.

© iStock.com / hudiemm

As construction nears a close for the Rocky Mountain Regional Veterans Affairs Medical Center, what remains in sharp focus is the $1 billion in cost overruns, and the fact that the new facility is limited in some key ways in comparison to the old, while also being subject to a number of construction errors.

The new facility has four more ICU beds than the previous center, but at the cost of nine medical beds and some psychiatric units. On top of this, the new location will not have the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Residential Rehabilitation Program that is still at the old hospital, and the VA will have to buy another building to house the program and seven primary care teams.

The VA currently does not have a clear plan as to when it will shutter the old hospital and purchase another building, but hopes that the department will have a better understanding of its plan in the next six to 12 months, noted Stella Fiotes, acting principal executive director for VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction.

As it stands, if the old hospital stays open "there’s an estimate that they’ll be $350 million of work to a campus that you’re going to get rid of,” said committee Chairman Phil Roe

Over the next few months current contractor Kiewit-Turner will be putting the finishing touches on the project, but hundreds of small design flaws still need to be fixed—everything from a sink in an operating room to voltage problems.

According to Construction Dive, the agency will miss the original completion date by four years. As a result, this motivated Congress to move forward with putting the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of VA construction projects expected to cost $100 million or more.

The Army Corps of Engineers took over hospital construction in 2015. The department has recently noted that it won’t make the same mistakes on future projects.

“The design was prepared a long time ago,” said Fiotes. “Requirements have evolved over time, and that probably is part of the reason that the capacities are smaller right now, including in the primary care, patient-aligned care teams, which were not in existence when the building was originally designed.”


Tagged categories: Construction; Government; Government contracts; Health Care/Hospitals

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/30/2018, 11:46 AM)

How do you decide to go ahead on a $Billion project (before overruns) that has as a planned final product a less capable facility in twice the square footage?

Comment from John Fauth, (3/1/2018, 10:25 AM)

Tom, it's easy when you're spending other people's money and there are no personal or professional consequences.

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