Major project: The main entrance of the new King Edward Memorial Hospital building as it will look from Point Finger Road. A public private partnership was entered into when Paget Health Services engaged BCM McAlpine to design and build the new facility on behalf of the Bermuda Hospitals Board. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Hospitals Board
Major project: The main entrance of the new King Edward Memorial Hospital building as it will look from Point Finger Road. A public private partnership was entered into when Paget Health Services engaged BCM McAlpine to design and build the new facility on behalf of the Bermuda Hospitals Board. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Hospitals Board
1
2
A seemingly-at-odds facts call for radical responses, i.e. superior problem solving. Consider this.

The reconstruction of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) is of national interest.

Bermudian contractors have never before built a hospital.

The work requires certain expertise. Local firms are unemployed or underemployed.

Kim Wilson, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said: “The construction industry is obviously feeling the effects of the contraction of the economy”.

But the demands implicit in a medical centre build require, according to the Minister, the local team partnering with an overseas entity.

A public private partnership (PPP) therefore resulted when Paget Health Services (PHS) engaged BCM McAlpine (BCM) to design and build the new facility on behalf of the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB). 

Main contractor BCM has since retained the services of Black and McDonald, an overseas electrical/mechanical company that has prior experience with hospital construction.

Meanwhile, Bermudian company Correia Construction Company Ltd. excavated the site.

“This is of national importance because everybody, at some point or another, will make contact with the hospital.

“When you take that aspect and couple it with the contracted construction industry, then we have a responsibility to ensure that a project of this magnitude is built by Bermudians,” Ms Wilson said.

She agreed to meet with BCM owner Alan Burland concerning human resource requirements for the hospital reconstruction.

At that meeting, held at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess on February 28, the Minister broached the idea of a larger assembly in which Bermudian business owners and suppliers would be invited to hear how the contractor intended to proceed with hiring.

“Most companies are not going to do that [call such a meeting],” Ms Wilson said. “Mike Ewles, chief executive officer of BCM McAlpine, helped tremendously in putting the meeting together. He recognized immediately, when we had the conversation with him, the benefits of having this type of forum.”

Ms Wilson noted the detailed explanation of the tendering and selection process that BCM provided sub-contractor participants, the registration of interest forms that each attendee completed and the transparency predicated on their working together for the good of Bermuda.

The meeting, which was to have gone from 10am to 12pm, was instead extended to 2pm. Some 350 people had attended, many of them taking part in the question and answer period afterwards. And at the podium with BCM was a representative from Black and McDonald who also answered questions.

The Minister said:  “It’s such a big job, 70 per cent of the whole project will be Bermudian.” She noted, too, that graduates of the Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation Construction Incubator Programme would be among the companies sub-contracted by BCM.

And the Minister added:  “As best as possible, they’re going to try to get all their supplies in Bermuda.”

This means that, in addition to the projected peak of 300 Bermudian trades people, stocks of tile, paint, electrical supplies and concrete, as well as metal and lumber needs, windows, doors and furnishings will come from local distributors.

“People have to be employed,” Ms Wilson said. “It’s our responsibility, I think, because we know about all the social ills that can occur with high unemployment levels, and the frustrations that people are feeling trying to make ends meet.

“With a project of this size, Bermudians have to be intimately involved. They must. There are no two ways about it.” She revealed the mechanisms through which the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expects to facilitate the building and sourcing of men and materials. “Every sub-contractor has to supply to BCM on a weekly basis the statistics relating to their employees, i.e. number of locals, number of migrant workers, spouses of Bermudians, etc., and that information will then be supplied to me by BCM,” Ms Wilson said.

She referred to work permits, likely numbering in the hundreds per week and said:  “Every work permit application concerning the construction industry I review personally… I’m pretty good about time management, and I have wonderful support from the Permanent Secretary, Cherrie Whitter, as well as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry team.”

The Minister also noted that, as with a recent incident on another build, she would not hesitate to undertake spontaneous site visits where questions arise with respect to the inappropriate use of human or other resources.

The reconstruction is in everyone’s interest. KEMH is being rebuilt by Bermudians partnering, according to the Minister of Economy Trade and Industry, with the migrant expertise a medical centre implicitly requires. The construction industry benefits as locals return to work.