Member News June 2020
Brawner Builders completes 53 hospital tents in 36 days during the pandemic
As Maryland medical professionals hurried to address growing outbreaks of COVID-19 this spring, Brawner Builders dug into its own pandemic-response project.
Brawner was part of a project team tasked with building 50-plus hospital tents at locations throughout the state in 30 days to temporarily increase Maryland’s capacity of inpatient and intensive care beds.
“As soon as I got the first phone call, I realized we would need people working around the clock and we would need to find ways to cut installation time,” said James O’Brien, Project Manager.
Due to the speed of the project and the possibility of materials shortages, the facilities’ design was kept simple. To speed construction and optimize worker productivity, Brawner created a production line in its yard where 10-15 employees could prefabricate interior walls and other components.
With sites stretched from Cumberland to St. Mary’s counties, the project required Brawner to dispatch seven to eight flatbeds of prefabricated materials each day and dedicate up to 75 people to the project daily. Workers logged 10-12 hours per day, took just one day off in a three-week stretch, and adjusted to the project’s rapidly changing needs.
Crew members sometimes didn’t know until 9 pm what site they needed to head to in the morning, O’Brien said. “The state was still figuring out the best locations for these tents as we built. I didn’t know where the last eight to 10 tents were going until day 28.”
“It was a very challenging project. I used to call our people and tell them that what you are doing is saving lives. This project matters. And I used my personal case as an example,” said Sam Negahban, Vice Presi¬dent. Negahban’s mother contracted COVID-19 in a nursing facility. “This was a mission. Our approach was we aren’t just doing another job, we are building these facilities to save lives.”