QUINCY — Construction is progressing at full speed at the Illinois Veterans Home, and administrator Troy Culbertson said he was pleased with the progress.
“We are happy with the build,” Culbertson said. “Not only the progress made, but the quality of the work done. We are really happy that so many local suppliers are part of the project with us.
The Illinois Veterans Home-Quincy Rehabilitation and Renovation Project will result in the creation of two new state-of-the-art facilities on campus – an 80-bed independent living center and a 210-bed long-term care center.
Veterans United Constructors – a joint venture between Alberici Corp. of St. Louis and River City Contractors LLC of East Peoria, Ill. – is completing the $230 million project.
The construction comes after the house experienced recurrent outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease among residents from 2015, causing 13 deaths and sickening dozens more.
One of the strengths of the investigation of these outbreaks was the age of the facilities.
“We’re going to have roughly the same number of beds,” Culbertson said. “We are not expanding by building these new facilities. Some of the older buildings will be demolished, as they are in disrepair.
“Staff will increase, however,” he continued. “We will operate the new long-term care building using the tiny house model. He takes the population and separates them into small groups, around 10 to 15 patients, so we need more staff for these small groups.
As part of the overall plan, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs purchased the former Sycamore Health Care Facility in Quincy in 2018. Renamed Hammond Hall, this facility will continue to be used after the new construction.
“Hammond Hall will continue to operate as an IDVA facility even after these buildings are constructed,” Culbertson said. “We are currently considering two main options: expansion of care provision, such as adult child care, and potentially a rehabilitation centre, for skilled rehabilitation of patients after their stay in hospital.”
Culbertson said either option for this facility will allow the veterans home to continue to focus on supporting the needs of veterans.
The first of two buildings, the Independent Living Center, is expected to be completed in April or May 2023, while the Long-Term Care Building is expected to be completed in December 2023.
“The original plan was to do the buildings separately, finish the first, then build the second,” Culbertson said. “The contractor offered to do it in phases, where instead of sending the crews home and bringing them back six months later when they’ve finished part of the build, these guys move in and start working. on the second building, so they have this built-in gap of about six months just between construction phases, but it saves a lot of money by running both projects at the same time.
Building materials have been less available and more in demand over the past two years, but Culbertson said this project took that into account and worked to avoid issues with material needs.
“Fortunately, we were able to recognize them early enough to place the orders, and so they won’t delay the completion of the project,” he said. “Just as an example, the perimeter fencing that needed to be put up around construction sites, that was hard to get, and that slowed us down a bit at the start of a few weeks.
“The steel for the buildings was ordered in advance. Once the plans were finalized to that extent, we ordered it and had it delivered to the spot. Normally we wouldn’t have on-site storage, but we’ve made special allowances to allow contractors to have it here so it’s ready for them when they get to that point.
One of the construction puzzle pieces that was completed ahead of schedule was the final window design. Culbertson said the windows themselves currently take 30 to 40 weeks to ship, so plans need to be finalized before the order can be placed.
Culbertson hopes the community will support the house as work continues through 2023 and into 2024, with landscaping and other finishing work after major construction is complete.
“We understand how unsightly it is here right now. I hope the community can join us in looking beyond what we have now and seeing what will be when the job is done.