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Wrangell Medical Center Construction On-Schedule Despite Weather

WRANGELL – Battling significant snowfall and temperatures touching single-digits, the crews at the Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) construction site managed to forge ahead during the challenging month of January. Specialized equipment was brought-in and some crews shifted their focus to interior work, allowing the project to remain on schedule for an early 2021 opening.

Concrete slabs are finished in the first of four quadrants in the new construction. Just as the concrete team began to hit their stride, temperatures dipped to lows of eight degrees and winds picked up, making it too cold for even Dawson Construction’s industrial space heaters to allow for curing.

“Concrete slab pours were cancelled for the week of Jan. 12 and were re-scheduled to for Jan. 25,” said SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Construction and Engineering Manager Mike Pountney. “Slabs are now scheduled to be completed by the third week in February, weather permitting. Three pours-per-week are scheduled for the next three weeks, with the hope we can accelerate as weather allows.”

Concrete crews are also at the mercy of the underground contractors. While underground plumbing was completed earlier in the month, the project had to wait for a specialized ground thaw unit for electrical and backfill work to be completed. The unit was fired up and underground operations recommenced, with electrical and backfill scheduled to be completed by Feb. 1.

Exterior wall framing never wavered during January, while roofers were forced inside for several weeks due to snow and ice. Approximately 98 percent of trusses have been lowered into place, and roofers recently restarted sheathing and underlayment installation. Dawson is aiming for a true dry-in of the site in March, meaning the shell is complete and interior work can begin.

“We’re excited that construction remains on schedule, in spite of the weather,” said SEARHC Vice President and WMC Hospital Administrator Leatha Merculieff. “Safety is always of the utmost importance in any project, so it’s promising to hear that the crews were able to shift priorities and the worksite was able to remain active.  We’re counting down the days until we can begin serving our patients and residents in the new facility.”

The new facility is being constructed adjacent to the existing AICS Clinic, the combined facility measuring over 44,000 square feet and featuring a 14-bed long-term care unit; a four-room, flexible acute care wing; an expanded emergency/trauma department; and a full complement of support services.