Barnhart Assists at St. Judes

Feb 29, 2008

Monumental relocation
St. Jude completes $26 million move to Chili's Center
Memphis Business Journal - by Toby Sells Staff writer

Diagnostic equipment craned into Chili's Care Center at St. Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is putting the finishing touches on a $26 million move into the Chili's Care Center that took four years to plan and a month to execute.

Cranes have towered high this month at St. Jude's campus as literally tons of machinery have been moved from its older building to new space in the 340,000-square-foot Chili's Care Center.

The bulk of that move has been to relocate the hospital's radiological sciences department. That part of the move cost $19 million alone, but it has brought together three related divisions that were once scattered across campus.

"They had office space in five different buildings and people were spread out wherever we could stick them," says John Curran, St. Jude's director of design and construction. "But now all of their offices are on the third floor and the treatment areas are based on the first floor. They're together now like they've never been."

The synergy created by bringing the departments of radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine together is in line with the "St. Jude way." The hospital has always tried to put researchers and doctors together with hopes that the synergy will bring about new ways to fight cancer.

To get there, though, required years of planning, lots of heavy equipment and tons of man hours. Workers from every equipment vendor -- Siemens, Phillips and others -- had to be on hand for the breakdown and installation of their machines. Builders RHTC, Inc., and movers Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co. did much of the heavy lifting. In all, more than 1,000 workers were on hand for the month-long move.

Darrell Grice, a senior project manager for St. Jude, oversaw the project. He says the process was painstaking, but he didn't want any surprises.

"We had to look at every piece of equipment and make sure we had a process for getting it in the new building and getting it out of the old building," Grice says.

In all, Grice and his team moved three MRIs, two linear accelerators, two CT scanners, a nuclear medicine camera, equipment for an interventional medicine room and two other pieces of radiographic equipment. Through the process, St. Jude purchased a new MRI and a new linear accelerator at more than $1 million apiece.

"It sounds like getting all the big pieces in were hard and they were, but it was really hard to get everyone to identify everything it took to make the village work," says Curran.

He says Grice's plans had the nearly 200 doctors and researchers affected by the move coordinate everything they'd need before, during and after the move. He "was coordinating everything down to things that cost $10," Curran says.

It was these hundreds of pages of detail that helped the hospital care for kids in the midst of the scheduled disarray. Grice says the hospital had to cut down to two MRIs for a couple of weeks and had a little down time with the CT PET scanner, but the linear accelerators never stopped.

The new machines and the new space will allow doctors to get more patients through their treatments or diagnoses quicker, says Curran. The treatment facility used to be cramped in 12,000 square feet.

An MRI that used to sit in a converted conference room now has its own suite with a dressing room, a bathroom, a room for anesthesia and a control room. All of this makes treatment more comfortable for the patients and more efficient for the hospital.

"They have been doing MRIs and CTs as late as 10 at night and that was hard on the staff and the kids," Curran says.

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