Greater Victoria company lends helping hand to VGH

Downs Construction repaired nearly all damage from recent flood in 21 days

Getting operating rooms at Victoria General Hospital functional ahead of schedule took extra effort by a Greater Victoria construction company.

A broken water valve flooded the View Royal hospital in the early morning hours of July 10, closing four delivery and four operating rooms. All pediatric and C-section surgeries were completed as planned, but 12 adult surgeries were diverted to Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Brendan Grant, project manager at Downs Construction, an Esquimalt-based restoration and renovation company, said it wasn’t his week to be on call, but couldn’t defer when the hospital called him directly to help with the renovations.

Grant has a soft spot for the maternity ward. His first child spent 115 days in the neonatal intensive care unit and his second child was born with a hole in her heart and was cared for there as well. His wife also lived at the hospital for four months after their babies were born.

“You’d be hard pressed to find me there [on his off-week] if the circumstances weren’t the same,” he said.

Grant noted there was no time to waste, as there is a 72-hour window after a structure gets wet before mould starts to set in.

Grant and his crew pulled 22-hour days for nine days in a row to get the maternity ward back to normal as quickly as possible.

It took crews two days to set up the proper containment with negative air pressure to ensure no dust particles would get to other parts of the hospital.

The team cut out wet drywall, cleaned any dust behind it, put drywall back up, took the floor out, cleaned, put the floor back in, cleaned, and cleaned everything again once the containment was taken down.

He said if they stuck to regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts it would have taken six weeks to complete the same amount of work. Grant said other project managers at Downs gave him their workers, rotating 12 workers through three shifts per day. His manager also gave him backup so they could continue working around the clock.

The team finished nearly all of the repairs by July 31, with the exception of the surgical daycare room as it is closed for the summer.

“I was glad we got it done and we kept it up and running,” Grant said.

The team worked with nurses and hospital staff to try to eliminate the chance of a mother giving birth to the sound of drilling across the hall.

“We tried to minimize it as much as we could and just tried to co-ordinate with the nurses to let them know what times things were going to be loud,” Grant said.

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