Healthcare is an exciting and dynamic industry. It has changed, technologically, and many institutions are experiencing growth or perhaps are upgrading their facilities. In Utah, where the mountains and vistas are a majestic part of the landscape, the healthcare industry and the locale are equally progressive and impressive.

Intermountain Health Care (IHC) is a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization that owns and operates 21 hospitals in Idaho and Utah. It is so expansive that more than 2,500 physicians are affiliated with the group.

IHC is not only known for its extensive healthcare operations, but also for the fact that the organization is a charitable one that helps provide services to those in need. In 2003, IHC was named the top integrated health care system. The organization keeps making strides by staying abreast of current trends and technology, which translates into top-notch facilities. It prides itself on the fact that all of its facilities can be described as either new or recently renovated.

One of IHC’s biggest undertakings in recent years was to increase overall capacity at its Dixie Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in St. George, Utah. IHC built a new 440,000-square-foot, 137-bed hospital with on-site MRI, emergency room, radiology rooms, nursing towers, and physician’s offices. Perhaps the biggest boon was the state-of-the-art cardiac facility that helped put DRMC on the regional map. The cardiac center is a benefit not only for the hospital, but also for the surrounding community since it is now possible to undergo open-heart surgery right in St. George.

Enter Cache Valley Electric (CVE). This Logan, Utah-based company has been turning heads for many years and securing a portion of the DRMC project just seemed to complement Cache Valley’s impressive portfolio of clients and projects. The company has grown from humble beginnings into a firm that has offices in Logan, Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix, Portland and Blytheville, Ark.

CVE was started in 1915 by Henry F. Laub. The business remains family owned and operated, now headed by Jim Laub, the founder’ grandson. In 1916, the company received what was to be the first of many prominent contracts: the electrical project for the chemistry building at what is now Utah State University. They have continued to build upon that initial success and are consistently recognized for their achievements. One of CVE’s ongoing recognitions is from the Intermountain Electrical Association, which has named Cache Valley the Outstanding Large Electrical Contractor of the Year for 2002, a designation the company has received 10 times during the past 14 years.

The company has evolved from a strictly electrical construction contractor into a firm that offers a variety of services, including industrial, commercial, design/build construction, teledata, technology services, security and controls, cell tower and service work. The construction division remains the company’s claim to fame and they have continued to evolve and even have a specialized department devoted especially to cellular transmission towers.

In 2002, Cache Valley Electric was officially awarded the Dixie Regional Medical Center project to provide both electrical and teledata construction services. According to Jon Pike, DRMC Project Manager with IHC: “Cache Valley has an excellent reputation. We selected them because of their expertise with large contracting jobs, their expertise working on healthcare projects, and the cost competitiveness of their quality workmanship.”

Project specifications

Pike continued: “DRMC River Road Campus cost approximately $100 million. They were accountable for the second most costly subcontracting category in construction. Only the costs of mechanical equipment were greater.” Such figures help conceptualize what type of coup this was for Cache Valley.

DRMC was a textbook example of a fast-track project. The project duration was extremely short for an undertaking of its size and magnitude. Cache Valley began work in April 2002 and they completed their contract by November 2003. Yet another interesting aspect was that many of the items and products required were technically long lead-time ones. According to CVE, the coordination of the lighting, gear and equipment was critical and the company managed to organize its crews and vendors to make it happen.

Project manager for Cache Valley, Paul Harris, said that the project had already been underway for six months by the time they entered into the equation. “We were under the gun from day one.” Sounds challenging, but Harris and the CVE crew kept up the schedule which made the client very happy. Often, fast-track projects of this size can fall apart when one contractor gets off schedule.

At DRMC, Cache Valley installed normal, emergency and critical power as well as UPS systems. The facility is fed by three, 3,000kVA oil-filled transformers that are backed up by two twin 1,000kVA generators and the design lends itself to further expansion should the need arise. Because the hospital is a state-of-the-art facility, there are numerous systems installed throughout that are required for daily operations. Some of the those installed by Cache Valley include nurse call, wireless communications, paging, fire alarm, CCTV, data communications and various other critical systems essential for the operation of a healthcare facility. CVE said it installed 250,000 feet of electrical conduit, 1,000,000 feet of wire and over 8,000 lighting fixtures.

According to DRMC, the new hospital features both traditional and wireless telecommunications systems with a fiber optic backbone. This is an important feature of the facility since it places DRMC in position to switch over to a fully wireless system in the future. This type of preplanning and future-proofing helps to illustrate the thought that went into the DRMC project.

The human factor

To illustrate CVE’s commitment, IHC’s Jon Pike said, “Paul Harris, project manager for Cache Valley, and his crew were wonderful to work with. They were able to anticipate problems that hadn’t come up in the design phase and work around them or correct them during the building phase so everything worked well. Their flexibility was amazing. In a project this large, you deal with a lot of change, and most of it ‘has to happen yesterday.’ Paul and his crew made sure everything was ready for opening. In addition, any issues that needed to be taken care of after we opened were done and done well.”

During peak times of the project, Cache Valley had 65 electricians working on site along with various craftsmen in other trade areas such as communications. Cache Valley did not have any recordable injuries during the entire time frame. During the project, Harris, general foreman Kirk Mountford and others temporarily moved to St. George so that they could be close by to ensure the project’s success.

The Dixie Regional Medical Center project is one that will remain in the hearts and minds of all that were involved in making the dream of such a facility a reality. Cache Valley Electric is an example of what a company can achieve by maintaining their integrity and promoting their expertise. The project and the electrical contractor were an example of all that becomes possible when professionals take over.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.