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Progress continues on the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center

Randy Cephus - U S Army Corp of Engineers, Ft. Worth, TX

The original Darnall hospital opened in 1965 to serve 17,000 soldiers, with an addition in 1984 added to serve 39,000 troops. Today, the hospital serves roughly 45,000 soldiers, as well as nearly 125,000 family members and retirees within a 40-mile radius.

FORT WORTH, Texas - November 28. 2012 From U.S. Route 190, between Killeen and Copperas Cove, Texas, there are multiple cranes at work, lifting, lowering and traversing in a well choreographed manner. A cacophony of thumping, buzzing and zipping sounds pierce the air as construction crews hammer, saw and staple while working on the new medical center. Little by little, the framework of the complex rises from the earth like the crescendo of a musical passage.

The new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is well under way with construction for its projected 947,000 square foot medical center. The new facility will be approximately 60-percent larger than the existing 45-year-old medical center. The anticipated beneficial occupancy date is the summer of 2014 and the proposed final operational date is the summer of 2015.

The beneficial occupancy date is the date that the contractor officially turns over the constructed building to the Army. Then, during the initial outfitting period, furniture and equipment will be installed. Finally, when the building is fully equipped and the facility passes final inspections, it will open to patients on the final operational date.

“Military construction requires the cooperation and coordination of many agencies such as the U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Installation Management Command, and III Corps and Fort Hood,” said Col. Charles Klinge, commander of the Fort Worth District.

A $540-million contract to design and construct the new facility was awarded in September 2010 to Balfour Beatty/McCarthy Joint Venture of Dallas. The contract was the largest Department of Defense contract financed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

Ongoing construction, which began in the summer of 2011, is accomplished using a design-build acquisition strategy in which a single firm coordinates the design and construction. The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been overseeing the progress of the project along with its Fort Hood counterparts.

To stand back and watch the ongoing effort is like being at a concert and watching the conductor as he directs sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments during the harmonious delivery of a Ludwig van Beethoven classic.

This does not happen by chance, according to Capt. Cassidy W. Eaves, Operations Officer for Fort Worth District’s hospital program.

“A lot of detail goes into the schedule to synchronize our efforts and involves prioritizing efforts and ensuring the pieces to the puzzle get put together in a logical order in addition to anticipating the amount of time it takes to complete each task,” added Eaves.

The new facility addresses Fort Hood’s most pressing medical needs which include the areas of behavioral health, specialty clinics and pediatric primary care.

Presently, the medical center is approximately 25-percent complete, according to Richard Alexander, the Fort Hood Hospital Construction Manager.

Approximately 66,000 square feet is dedicated to behavioral health services. This area located on the third floor will include an outpatient component, a Resilience and Restoration Center, Department of Social Work and Hospital and Administrative Psychiatry. It will be connected through the concourse to the in-patient component of the psychiatric unit, which will also feature an exterior basketball court.

The fourth floor of the new medical center will be devoted to women’s services. It will include nine labor-delivery-recovery rooms, two C-section units, a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit and a 28-bed mother baby unit.

The new pharmacy will be nearly 13,000 gross square feet, with 13 dispensing windows and a satellite pharmacy in the pediatrics clinic. It will incorporate state-of-the-art automation that decreases the potential for medication errors while increasing the efficiency of pharmacy operations.

“This facility was designed with flexibility in mind, so as health care needs change, so can Darnall,” said Alexander. “The design allows flexibility and adaptability to accommodate the changing needs of clinics and departments and, in the future, there is room for lateral growth and an additional bed tower, if needed.”

Just as the success of any orchestra is based on preparation, precision and presentation, the same can be said for the medical center team. This team composed of the U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Installation Management Command, and III Corps and Fort Hood is making beautiful music for our soldiers, DA civilians and family members of Fort Hood and the surrounding communities

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