Schneck Medical Center uses latest technology in construction


Schneck Medical Center is using German technology that’s relatively new to the United States in the construction of the new five-story medical office and five-level parking garage.

The project, which will change the face of the hospital — and the city along west Tipton Street — when it’s completed next spring, includes the use of the Slim-Line Cobiax system to create a lighter, more efficient concrete slabs for each floor of the five-story medical office building.

Cobiax are lightweight void formers made from recycled plastic. They are used in place of solid concrete within the steel-reinforced slabs for each floor. More than 50 workers have been installing the technology recently for the fourth floor of the medical building.

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Workers set the Cobiax blocks about three inches apart in between two rebar beams throughout the length of the floors within the structure.

“It creates an air void in the center of the slab,” said Jason Fee, the director of facilities at Schneck. “It makes it lighter weight, but it doesn’t hurt the strength.”

The technology also allows the foundations of structures to be smaller, he said. The system is not used for the foundation, which is solid concrete. Fee said he was unsure the number of Cobiax that will be used in the project, which also includes construction of a five-story parking garage, but he estimated it to be more than 10,000.

“I’m trying to get that number,” he said.

Cobiax is manufactured in Germany and the company only lists four completed projects that use the technology in the United States. Those projects are in Iowa, Florida, New York and Ohio.

“It’s new to our area,” he said.

Fee said it’s possible other projects around the country are using the system in construction.

Representatives from the construction company went to Washington D.C. to observe a project using Cobiax, he said.

“They wanted to make sure they understood the quality assurance stuff they should be doing for our project,” Fee said. The construction company is Pepper Construction Co.

The Indianapolis firm has hired local and regional companies to complete various parts of the $44 million project. Lawyer Excavation Inc. of Seymour is one of those firms.

Willhelm Construction of Indianapolis will complete much of the parking garage work. Fee said the company has constructed many of the parking garages throughout the state.

“I believe Columbus has three and they did all of them,” he said. “They said if there is a parking garage in Indiana, they probably built it.”

Beams for the outside of the parking garage has been set, creating a shell for the structure. Fee said it will not look like a typical parking garage because it will have the same material and match the outside of the medical office and hospital.

The idea for the garage came because Schneck decided it would construct the medical building and having 80,000-square-feet of office would require a number of additional parking spaces.

The hospital decided it was not in their best interests to secure other properties for parking lots. That would have also required much farther walks for patients and visitors, Fee said.

“That’s how we opted into the parking garage,” he said. Fee said the garage was designed with the idea of accommodating people who live in a rural area and often have large pickups.

“We realize we live in an area where not everyone drives a compact car,” he said. “We said a majority of people would be driving a truck or SUV and they took that into consideration when they designed the garage.”

One thing employees, officials and construction workers are asked about is the crane, which is operated by Maxim Crane Works of Indianapolis.

Fee said the operator climbs to the top of the crane, which takes about 20 minutes, each morning.

The crane lifts materials and equipment to construction workers. During a recent tour of the site, the crane lifted a skid of the Slim-Line Cobiax and concrete trowel used to finish concrete.

It can be seen moving throughout the day assisting the workers and setting materials in place.

“It’s cool to see a crane like that here,” Fee said.

He said the crane sits directly in the middle of where the parking garage will be and once both structures are built, it will be disassembled and removed from the site sometime later this year.

“Right now things are going well,” he said. Concrete work is expected to wrap up sometime in the early fall, Fee said.

Initially the fourth and fifth floors of the office building will be finished out for use. There also will be room on top of the fifth floor to house mechanical equipment.

Overall, Fee said the project is going as expected and looks like it will hit all its targets.

The last hospital expansion occurred with the construction of the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center nearly a decade ago.

Warren Forgey, president and CEO, said during the groundbreaking in January that 4,500 inpatient admissions and overnight observations were completed in 2017, 730 babies were brought into the world and more than 6,000 surgeries were performed at Schneck.

This past year, there were more than 30,000 patients in the emergency room, while Schneck’s lab completed more than 9,000 tests and 60,000 radiology exams.

For all Schneck locations, more than 150,000 patient visits were recorded. The hospital employs more than 1,000 and has a staff of 140 physicians.

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Some facts about the crane used at Schneck Medical Center.

The crane is operated by Maxim Crane Works of Indianapolis.

Crane height: 145’-3”

Horizontal Section: 246’-1”

Weight: 225,142 pounds.

Weight of concrete pad the crane is secured to: 468,750 pounds.

The crane required 12 tractor trailers to bring it to the site for assembly.

It was assembled with the use of a portable crane on site.


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