With two hospital projects completed and a $15,000 donation to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation, IBEW Local 105 has been doing everything it can to help protect the Hamilton community against COVID-19.
The two Hamilton-area construction projects were fast-tracked in April to improve the number of beds available to treat coronavirus patients.
The first hospital expansion was an 87-bed temporary facility for the Joseph Brant Hospital, which required shifts around the clock for two weeks to complete on time. For this project, IBEW Local 105 electricians worked for Plan Group, who had built prior additions and upgrades to the hospital.
The second project was an upgrade to outfit a shell space in the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) to provide 40 COVID-19 patient beds. The electrical work was managed by Univex.
“There was a real sense of pride when I talked to the members about what they had accomplished,” said IBEW Local 105 Business Manager Lorne Newick about the new units. “The fact that these facilities would help deliver care to people that need it and save lives was important to them.”
For the hospital expansions, Local 105 electricians wired power, lighting, fire alarms, network cabling, IT and controls. The data and communications setup was completed to provide things like data connections at all bedsides, so medical personnel could update patient status records via tablet.
Great Contractors Helped the Projects Come Together Quickly
Newick commented on how having excellent project management is essential for meeting demanding schedules while observing social distancing and other safety rules.
“It’s tough to do— and costly. There are ongoing changes to the flow of workers from area to area, and in overall numbers at the site. Sometimes additional workers or extra shifts need to be added, and more effort needs to be put into coordinating and timing the work.” said Newick.
“Thankfully Univex was very well organized and very professional. When we showed up, all the information, tools, and materials we needed were ready so we could start right away. Same thing with Plan Group: we knew exactly what they had to do and what the expectations were.”
Medical PPE was provided to Local 105 electricians by both contractors, including masks and hand sanitizer.
$15,000 Donation to Help Protect Frontline Healthcare Personnel
While working on the Joseph Brant Hospital upgrade, Local 105 recognized that, like all healthcare facilities, the hospital was struggling to equip frontline healthcare workers with medical PPE.
“We donated $10 for every hour we worked on the hospital to the Foundation to help them purchase the equipment they need,” says Newick. “It came to a $15,000 donation.”
A Possible Silver Lining for Construction Workers
If there’s a silver lining to be found in the midst of the tragic illnesses and economic upheaval, Newick is hoping for some much-needed permanent improvements to worksite conditions for all construction workers.
“For years there’s been an ongoing struggle to raise hygiene standards across all worksites,” he said. “Washrooms and general cleanliness practices have dramatically improved since February. While we hope for a solution to the pandemic situation, no matter what happens, it’s in everybody’s interest to have proper cleanliness practices at construction sites continue.”
Newick added, “We’re also grateful for the increase in worksite enforcement led by James Barry from the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario (IBEW CCO) and Graeme Aitken from the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO). According to what I hear, some worksites are changing in a positive way and some aren’t. Workers aren’t fools— they can see when the effort is being put in and when it isn’t.”
We All Have a Responsibility to Protect Workers
Says Newick, “Everyone’s worried about bringing COVID-19 home. We all have a responsibility to keep workers safe. From owner-clients to general contractors, to the individual subcontractors, to the workers, we all need to own our responsibilities and do our part.”
“For now,” Newick concludes, “I’m glad to report that Local 105 has no reported COVID-19 cases in our membership.”