Five things I learned when delivering Ireland's largest ward extension

Five things I learned when delivering Ireland's largest ward extension

by Eimear Phelan, Commercial Manager, ESS Modular

ESS Modular recently handed over Ireland’s largest modular ward extension - a state of the art 3,300 square metre, 40-bed ward extension at South Tipperary General Hospital (STGH). The development consists of a two-storey accommodation block linked to the main hospital. It features 40 en-suite bedrooms, reception and lounge areas, kitchen facilities, staff changing rooms, store rooms and drug preparation facilities.

Here Eimear Phelan, Commercial Manager, ESS Modular shares five key things she learned while working on the project over the last year.

1. A collaborative approach working with key partners is vital for the success of any project

From the project outset our Design Team was keen to work with the HSE to develop a project that met their needs, was spacious and offered the highest quality finish. Working with our design partners, O’Connell Mahon Architects & Arup Consultants, we developed a scheme that not only met the client’s requirements but also highlighted the high quality and precision manufacturing finish that Modular Construction can deliver.

From a personal perspective, having worked on larger projects within the UK for ESS Modular and now returning to Ireland to head up the commercial delivery of schemes here, a key driver throughout the project was to change the perception that modular is “temporary” and “sub-standard to traditional”. I was delighted to see that this perception was  completely changed by the end of the project.

2. Modern healthcare places a huge emphasis on patient experience and this is now being reflected in hospital design.

The design brief requested that we provide a physical environment area that is bright and spacious allowing staff to care for patients with dignity but also catering to the realistic needs they have on site for changing areas, rest areas and most importantly in a hospital storage rooms! The emphasis from all parties was to ensure the new building not only provided for greater patient privacy and comfort but also took the staff into account.  

By having single bedrooms with en-suites gives patients the privacy they need but also provides increased infection control due to patient segregation. With the ventilation design focusing on natural ventilation to the bedrooms, it ensured the capital costs and running costs for the ventilation were reduced but, by default, the large windows in the patient bedrooms also allow for daylight to rooms and a view out to bedbound patients.

3. There are always challenges in any job. It is how you deal with them which is key to the success of the project.

With construction, every project is bespoke and has variances, mainly as a result of the individuals involved. We were lucky on this job to have not only have an experienced design team but also a great relationship with the HSE, which led to working collaboratively together for the benefit of the scheme.

The main obstacle on the project was a change in regulatory requirements which happened in the course of the project and altered the design intention. The granted Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) listed the corridors on ground and first floor as protected corridors which had a knock-on effect on the doors, ironmongery, partitions, fire sealing, smoke dampers, etc. This accounted for a 4/5 week delay to the overall programme as elements were re-designed but we worked hard to ensure that any delays were kept to a minimum.

4. Our modular manufacturig process is really the only solution when it comes to delivering much needed healthcare facilities.

Prior to the delivery of the new modular ward block, the hospital staff were continually having to treat patients on trolleys in clinically inappropriate spaces due to overcrowding issues.  The provision of the new 40 bed ward allows for STGH to reduce the level of over-crowding on the wards and within the Emergency Department and offers them a  suitable healthcare environment for patients and families that will improve patient care, provide greater privacy as all rooms are single and en-suite and enable the staff care for patients with dignity and in comfort.

Time is of the essence when responding to the nationwide trolley crisis that exists within our Healthcare Sector. Traditional projects which rely on a design by client which is then built  on site does not address the problem as quick as is needed. Modular Construction allows for the design process to be led by the contractor, for the building to be manufactured offsite and to deliver a scheme on site much quicker than traditionally constructed projects.

5. It is hugely satisfying to hand over a building which you know will make a real difference to other people’s lives. 

This new building provides the hospital with a modern department that will facilitate the delivery of safe, effective and efficient patient care. To have patients using the building 4 weeks after handover shows the demand for the unit but it also highlights the level of finish offered by ESS Modular. The collaborative working relationship we developed with all parties meant the building could be completed to the highest standards to allow for immediate use.

At a time where you continually hear of bed shortages it’s a great feeling to know this project makes a real difference in the lives of people and staff.  South Tipperary General Hospital is located in Clonmel and provides acute general and maternity services to a catchment area of South Tipperary, North Tipperary and West Waterford. The hospital has been faced with significant capacity issues in the recent past so the provision of 40 new beds will prove a huge benefit to the hospital.


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South Tipperary General Hospital

We believe that modular construction is the future and we are looking for energetic people who share our ambition to join us on our journey.