Work crews labor on snowy Easter Sunday to prepare COVID-19 medical shelter in Loveland

Hercules Industries fabricating ductwork
Posted at 11:14 PM, Apr 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 14:16:42-04

DENVER — Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are usually days off for many in the construction trade, but these are no ordinary times.

When the state decided to build two facilities for convalescing COVID-19 patients, the calls went out for help.

Contractors set out to work at both The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland and the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, on what Gov. Jared Polis referred to as a "Tier 3 Field Hospital" during his news conference Friday, but what Colorado Emergency Management called "medical shelters."

Apollo Mechanical, the subcontractor for the ventilation system at the Loveland facility, reached out to Hercules Industries to help fabricate the ductwork.

"They found out at 9 p.m. Wednesday that they needed to have boots on the ground Thursday morning," said Hercules Regional Sales Manager John Newland. "They called us. We're just blessed to be able to be part of the bigger cause."

Newland said crews at Hercules worked around the clock to manufacture all the spiral ducts that will be used in the air handling system for the 1,000 bed Loveland facility.

"We had guys come in on a Good Friday," Newland said. "We're usually closed in observance of the holiday. They came in, worked all the way through Friday night and Saturday."

Apollo's installation crews worked Easter Sunday to put much of the ductwork in place in the Mac Equipment Pavilion, one of two buildings at The Ranch Events Complex slated to be part of the medical shelter.

The work is similar to what's going on at the Colorado Convention Center, where a 2,000-bed facility is under construction.

Both projects are being overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Polis said the Tier 3 field hospitals will be for COVID-19 patients whose lives are no longer in immediate danger.

"These are to decompress and protect our hospitals," he said, referring to the expected COVID-19 peak, when acute care beds will be needed for those whose lives are most in danger.

He said once the danger has passed and when "the hospital makes the determination that they no longer need to be in acute care, they can come (to the field hospital). They're monitored by nurses, oxygen can be administered."

Newland said it would normally take weeks to fabricate the ductwork, and months to install.

He said to meet the state's deadline, the fabrication was done in two days and the installation will be finished in a week or so.

"All the kudos need to go to the people on the shop floor and to the guys that are on the job site, working around the clock getting this done," he said. "It's those guys who really deserve all the credit, that are sacrificing their time to get this done."

Both medical shelters will be online by the end of the month.