Gavin Davids takes an exclusive tour of this fascinating healthcare project being built by ASGC
A recently released report found that the project pipeline for healthcare projects in the MENA region amounts to more than $55.2 billion, with 37 mega-hospital projects worth $28.2 billion already underway in the Gulf. These projects are expected to add 22,500 hospital beds to existing capacity, the Alpen Capital Healthcare Report says, adding that the outlook for the rest of the year is expected to be just as robust, with major projects being undertaken throughout the region.
Craig Plumb, head of Research, MENA for JLL, says the healthcare sector is becoming increasingly attractive to real estate investors as they look to diversify their investments.
“The healthcare sector offers the ability for real estate investors to participate in a growing market backed by the government, where long-term leases can be structured to major regional and international healthcare providers.
“From a developer’s perspective, healthcare facilities can contribute to the overall attraction of residential communities and also comprise a potential source of demand for commercial space within office or retail projects. While major hospitals may be too specialist for many contractors, clinics and other less specialist medical uses are well within the capabilities of more general contractors.”
The UAE is home to some of the region’s most high-profile healthcare projects, including Al Ain Hospital in Al Ain, Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf Medical University Hospital in Ajman. However, one project guaranteed to garner a lot of attention is the Mediclinic Parkview Hospital, a high-end hospital that will cater to the southern area of Dubai, specifically the immediate attachment areas of Jumeriah Village, Al Barsha South, Arabian Ranches, Motor City and Dubai Sports City.
Spread across 47,251sqm, the facility stands 10 storeys high with two basement levels and a ground floor. Strategically situated on Umm Suqeim Road between the junctions of Al Khail Road and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, it will offer in- and out-patient services across a full range of disciplines.
As construction work progresses rapidly on the project, with construction expected to be completed by 2018, Big Project ME was invited by the main contractor, Al Shafar General Contracting (ASGC), to tour the site and understand how the builder oversees the challenge of delivering this complex project.
“The built-up area is around 63,000sqm,” says Raafat Ramzy Riad Gendy, construction manager at ASGC and the man responsible for the successful delivery of the hospital. “There are exactly 89 patient rooms, with six operating theatres and all the facilities, such as MRI rooms, that you’d find in a general hospital. There are also 350 parking spaces.”
In total, the hospital will be a 190-bed facility with 100 consultation rooms. Levels seven and eight will have terrace gardens, while level areas and the roof space will be used to house the hospital’s MEP plant and solar panels.
When Big Project ME visited the site, 27% of work had been completed, but with the project team aiming to complete the project by October 2018, work is progressing rapidly, especially when one considers that ASGC only received the building permit in January 2017.
Addressing the challenges around the construction of the building, Gendy says that while there are certainly familiar elements to contend with, one of the biggest challenges the project team faces is managing the requirements from the medical side.
“Right now, it’s about coordinating between the medical equipment department and the construction field,” he explains. “As the main contractor, I’m doing the main fit-out with the medical equipment subcontractor who is working for the client. There are some specific jobs that need to be done during our normal procedures.”
“For example, we have critical rooms like the MRI room – the medical equipment itself will be supplied by the client, so some coordination has to be there – like with the lead lining and the RF shielding for the room. This is related to the radiation from the medical equipment. There have to be precautions for this, like special treatment for sections of the walls, for the concrete and the lining, which means that a layer has to be built into the wall and ceiling to protect against whatever radiation is coming from these machines or tools.
“This is one of the main tasks for us – coordination between the medical equipment contractor and us as the main contractor,” he asserts.
Looking towards the construction aspect of the project, Gendy adds that several specialist subcontractors had to be drafted in to work with ASGC’s sister company, Al Shafar United, on the main MEP works (electrical, AC, plumbing and firefighting systems) for the hospital.
“For some jobs, you need specialists – like with the medical gases, which for sure needed specialists [to make sure systems were correctly installed]. Then there’s the solar specialists and the lining and RF shielding specialists as well. In terms of the engineering on this project, we’re using BIM, which is helping us solve whatever obstructions come up in the coordination with the MEP subcontractor, specialist subcontractor or medical equipment subcontractor.”
With regard to the engineering, Gendy explains that the column arrangement and locations of the building were provided to the team, keeping in mind the architectural, structural and MEP requirements.
For the structural system, he points out that the building consists of reinforced concrete vertical elements (columns and core wall), reinforced concrete horizontal elements (flat slabs with thickness varying from 200-400mm, with the majority being 250mm), and drop panel slabs of 100-150mm, as per the design provided. Furthermore, floating slabs are being used to control the noise transition in several locations, while the steel structure is used to support faced elements.
“Our challenge here is that a hospital is a building with double-height floors, so formwork was a major issue to solve. The formwork needs to be fixed in a special order and managed in a safe manner. The second challenge is the extensive coordination works required with the specialist contractors,” Gendy says, returning to a topic he touched on earlier in the interview.
Although ASGC is using its own sister companies to work on the project (Al Shafar United is the MEP contractor, while the main joinery work is being done by Al Shafar Interior and Emirates Beaton supplies the concrete ready-mix), there is still an urgent need for close coordination.
“We have weekly meetings between the client and our subcontractors, and one with the subcontractor to give us updates about their specialist activities. We also have weekly technical coordination meetings with the BIM team to resolve the technical conflicts, following which the proposed technical solutions are submitted for the consultant’s approval.”
With more than a thousand workers currently on-site and over 3,000 expected at peak, these efforts to lead coordination and collaboration on the project will become vital as the team looks to hit its October 2018 deadline. Gendy says the workforce is operating on a 24-hour construction schedule, with two shifts per day and a six-day working week. While Fridays are meant to be off-days for the majority of the workforce, he does concede that certain jobs, like concrete pours, do happen.
“Logistically, right now we have three tower cranes and two mobile cranes on-site. At the same time, we have a laydown area that helps with the long lead items and shifting equipment. We have full staff to manage the ordering and approval of materials, and we use the Oracle system, so when we receive approval on the material, the procurement department awards the selected supplier. We also have a dedicated cost engineer that monitors the cost and the budget,” he explains.
In addition to all these measures, he reveals that ASGC also uses drones to help the project team monitor progress on the site.
With the tour coming a close, talk turns to health and safety measures on-site. Given the size and scale of the project and its workforce, Gendy says the contractor has taken several major steps to ensure safety and security, in line with the group’s own stringent safety standards and policies.
“On-site, we have the safety manager and several senior safety officers. We look to ensure best practice through awards on a monthly basis. We motivate people and we have a strong culture of safety. Every month, people who are doing a good job are rewarded,” he shares.
“We have 1,056 people on-site and every month we choose four or five of them, the ones who are working in safety, housekeeping, operations, quality and so on, and we reward them, display their photos on-site and so on.”
To control operations, he says a permit system is employed, which ensures that workers are fully briefed and prepared for the tasks they’re undertaking.
“If we’re working on a hazardous task like grinding, for example, then we will have safety permits signed by the worker who will do the job and his direct engineer and foreman, then operations, before a final check-up by the safety department. There are different kinds of permits – there are confined space permits, high-risk areas permits and so on. Whoever comes to the site newly has to be inducted. This is universal for the workers or the engineers.
“Also, we have safety officers in charge for all the areas. For the finishing we have separate teams, for the concrete we have separate teams, for the HVAC or MEP subcontractors we have separate teams looking after them from a safety POV.”
In addition, the safety team has ensured that there are fire extinguishers every 30 metres, while there is also what Gendy calls a “safe walk area” running through the entire site. The signage found throughout the site uses three languages – English, Hindi and Arabic.
‘We also have a good rest area with AC and toilet facilities for the workers. We also have a clinic with a resident nurse on-site, which provides first aid if needed,” he adds, pointing out that ASGC’s policy on safety violations is stringent, with first offenders receiving a warning letter and repeated offences leading to termination of work for the offender.
In conclusion, Gendy says that work on-site is progressing to his satisfaction, and despite the challenges facing the team, he remains confident that the project will be delivered to everyone’s satisfaction, especially the client, Mediclinic.
“We are ahead of the programme by 40 days. The situation on-site is healthy and relations are good with the client. Our performance is appreciated by the client and the consultant. The quality of works is very good and we haven’t received any negative site observations from the consultant,” he says proudly.
Project Name: Mediclinic Parkview Hospital
Main Contractor: Al Shafar General Contractors
Main Consultant: Stantec
MEP Contractor: Al Shafar United
Interiors: Al Shafar Interiors
Ready-mix Supplier: Emirates Beaton
- Basement 2 (Raft Slab) Total Built-up Area: 9,045sqm
- Basement 1 Total Built-up Area: 9,045sqm
- Ground Floor Total Built-up Area: 7,054sqm
- First Floor Total Built-up Area: 5,882sqm
- Second Floor Total Built-up Area: 5,309sqm
- Third Floor Total Built-up Area: 4,975sqm
- Fourth Floor Total Built-up Area: 4,515sqm
- Fifth and sixth Floor Total Built-up Area: 4,795sqm each
- Seventh Floor Total Built-up Area: 4,228sqm
- Eighth Floor Total Built-up Area: 2,930sqm