Me and my project: McCarrick’s health care programme

4 March 2020

The donor suite was extensively refurbished

McCarrick Construction’s James Brown safeguarded the day-to-day operations of a live healthcare facility while remodelling the Donor Suite at NHSBT’s Newcastle Blood Donor Centre.

Working on a live medical facility, cleanliness is of course of the utmost importance, and access can  be an issue. I have managed far larger jobs but, for me, overcoming the severe limitations set on our schedule by the continuous use of the facility was the most satisfying aspect of this complex job.

Our brief was to renovate the extensive donor suite, and demolish internal structures to create a new recuperation room and reception area.

At tender stage, we understood we’d have access to the whole area to work on at once, however at our pre-start meeting it quickly became clear that staff and donors would need usage of a reception and recuperation area in some form throughout, so as not to disrupt the vital process of blood donation.

“I had to manage deliveries and waste removal to the minute to make sure our skips and vans didn’t get in the way of blood supplies getting out.”

James Brown, McCarrick Construction

Maintaining seamless service

Newcastle Blood Donor Centre processes 500 pints of blood and 204 doses of platelets per week. Supplied nationwide to hospitals, clinics and air ambulances, any disruption to their supply could quite literally cost lives.

Helping the Donor Centre to provide a seamless service during construction was a huge responsibility to take on, but as a team with years of healthcare construction experience, we quickly revised our plan in order to carry out the works safely and on schedule.

We had already asked our flooring subcontractors to come in over the weekends, but now we had to ask our whole team to do the same. Thankfully, we have a very loyal workforce who understood the importance of the task and so we all agreed to work weekends over the six-week run-up to Christmas.

To allow normal service to continue, we divided the reception project into two phases, treating them as separate jobs and allowing staff to use half the space at a time for donor treatment.

Full-height, sealed hoardings were built to contain noise and dust, electrical circuitry relocated to allow easy usage by staff, then work began demolishing toilets, storage rooms and partition walls, creating a new recuperation room with kitchen and seating.

Phase two involved more demolition work, reinstating floors, walls and ceilings and the eventual creation of a new reception area complete with a bespoke reception desk. All the while, the larger donor suite was undergoing its staged renovation, with new ceilings, lighting, plumbing, decor and flooring all going in at weekends and then being cleaned up in time for donations to resume on Monday.

Shared lift access to site

To make things even more complicated, site access was via lifts shared with staff, so waste could only be removed, and supplies brought in, outside office hours. I had to manage deliveries and waste removal to the minute, to make sure our skips and vans didn’t get in the way of blood supplies getting out.

The access issue came to a head when we discovered a hidden difference in floor level, which necessitated a 2.5 tonne concrete pour, mixed and delivered by hand using the shared lifts.

Our team couldn’t have been more cooperative during this phase, and we managed to achieve the pour and continue on schedule eventually handing over on time – satisfied we had not only achieved a quality finish but also built a great relationship with our client.

James Brown is a site manager at McCarrick Construction

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