Making a difference
John Holland, a singularly owned subsidiary of Leighton Holdings Limited, is one of Australia’s premier specialists in engineering and contracting. Over the last 60 years, they have developed a longstanding reputation for quality results in a broad range of building sectors – including the health sector, where they have delivered many of the country’s leading hospitals and other medical facilities.
Over time, John Holland have earned a deep understanding of managing technical and complex health projects, and they have built many longstanding relationships with some of the industry’s most reputable providers.
Their relationship with Ramsay Health Care, for example, has spanned more than a decade. Together, the two companies have partnered on a number of key health projects, including several upgrades to the Hollywood Private Hospital. Most recently, they worked together on the award-winning Joondalup Health Campus Redevelopment.
Jay Whitman, who has been with John Holland since 2001, was the project manager for the redevelopment. He has been with the company since before he finished earning his Degree in Civil Construction and Engineering at Curtin University, WA. He worked his way through graduate and site engineering roles before he landed his position on the Joondalup Health Campus Redevelopment.
John Holland began work on the project in June 2009 and completed in October 2013, with an overall cost of $393 million.
A healthy atmosphere
The redevelopment was jointly funded by the Western Australian Government and Ramsay Healthcare, and was undertaken across seven key phases, beginning with an upgrade to access roads and car parking facilities. The project also included the construction of a new central plant building, three-level public ward block, emergency department, private ward block, a St John Ambulance centre, parking for 1500 cars, and a new childcare facility.
To ensure the project was delivered within budget and to a high standard of workmanship, John Holland’s own project team was involved at an early stage, and interacted frequently with the client, subcontractors, and architects at Silver Thomas Hanley. This close collaboration began prior to contract award, and continued throughout the life of the project – which proved to be immensely valuable.
“As a team, it was important we adapted to the changing scope of works and remained flexible, as the scope of works and sequence were modified a number of times,” Jay explains. “This required the team to develop unique construction solutions to meet the client’s needs.
During the design phase, the John Holland team worked hard to build on their pre-existing relationship with the client, as well as develop a deeper trust. As a result, they were able to be actively involved in the design process throughout construction, even though they weren’t contractually responsible.
“Our role was to ensure the design met the project budget and could be delivered within the project timeline,” Jay says. “This required our team to meet regularly with the design team to achieve a balance between design features, budget, and constructability. The client’s project manager was supportive of this process and valued our input.”
Additionally, John Holland developed strong affiliations with the subcontractors on the project, many of whom they had already worked with on previous projects. By holding interviews, they were able to ensure that everyone on site was prepared to adapt to the John Holland way of building – which meant following their safety procedures, and being willing and flexible enough to overcome technical challenges.
In addition to the evolving scope of work, some of the main challenges that faced the Joondalup Health Campus Redevelopment on the project were logistical. The company was working in a brown-field site, with many existing live services. One of their main objectives was to disrupt those services as little as possible. According to Jay, “comprehensive plans and a detailed sequence of construction” were integral to achieving that.
“Regular communication with hospital staff was a key focus to understand the impacts of our work and prepare for planned power outages at the existing hospital,” he says. “We worked closely with hospital management to provide temporary solutions during the shutdowns, and ensured enough information was provided in advance.”
With careful planning, John Holland was able to ensure the vital services to the hospital were not disrupted at any time. No operations had to be cancelled, and no patient wards were closed throughout the project’s lifespan. They also minimised the impact of noise and vibration, and maintained access to the existing hospital buildings.
Careful planning – and close collaboration with all stakeholders – also allowed John Holland to minimise their mistakes during service maintenance. By holding regular meetings with the consultants and subcontractors, conducting early design reviews and raising detailed requests for information, helped overcome major project challenges.
Redevelopment with rewards
Since starting work on the Joondalup Health Campus Redevelopment, John Holland has truly accomplished a great deal. Phase six of the project – known as Building K – is a massive achievement in itself. During that stage, the hospital doubled in physical size and patient capacity. Construction included 12 operating theatres, a 25 bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU), a 36-bed recovery ward, a shared services area for the Coronary Care Unit and ICU, a Sterile Supply Department, and storerooms.
Also included in that phase was the refurbishment of the existing theatres, ICU, administrative areas, Medical Centre, Emergency Department, Neo Natal and Oncology area. These works would later be joined to the existing hospital by various link corridors.
The main building was a three-storey concrete and steel structure, which was completed in two stages. Stage 1 adjoined the existing campus’ Operating Theatre wing, Emergency Department and Public Ward. Stage 2 included refurbishment of the existing six operating theatre wing, which couldn’t be completed until demolition the existing conditions under a previous refurbishment from the early 1990s.
In the end, John Holland overcame many project challenges, and the completed Joondalup Health Campus Redevelopment was incredibly successful. In particular, Building K was delivered to a high standard, ahead of schedule and under budget. John Holland’s work on the project has been rewarded with a commendation from the Department of Health, as well as the 2013 AIB Award for Commercial Construction $50,000,000 to $100,000,000. According to Jay, however, the real accomplishment is not the industry acclaim.
“Working on health infrastructure projects means much more for me knowing that we are delivering an improved facility to support the community,” he says.
“I would often take a walk around the hospital, and it was a reward in itself to hear feedback from hospital staff and patients,” he adds. “It feels great to know that your work made a huge difference in so many lives.”