Members of Atlanta Local 613 were asked to complete four months of work on Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s new patient tower in just three and a half weeks to make extra room for COVID-19 patients.
     The tower, which had been scheduled for completion on Aug. 1, opened April 13.

By now, everyone understands the phrase “flatten the curve.”

Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s Marcus Tower will add three ICU and acute nursing units and 132 additional beds to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

But the flip side of flattening the curve –slowing the infection rate so cases don’t overwhelm the health care system – is increasing capacity. If hospitals have more ventilators, more rooms, more space, the curve doesn’t have to be so flat.

Piedmont Atlanta Hospital north of downtown was scheduled to open a 13-floor patient tower Aug.1.

As COVID-19 spread around the globe, hospital administrators went to their contractors and asked could it be opened early? Could the construction workers be kept safe?

Atlanta Local 613 and one of its largest signatory contractors, Inglett and Stubbs, said yes.

“We had 100 people working in three 12-hour shifts,” said Business Manager Kenny Mullins. “We turned that four months into three and a half weeks.”

Marcus Tower opened Apr. 13.

The early opening will add three ICU and acute nursing units and a total of 132 additional beds, with 64 designated as critically needed ICU beds. This is good news not just for the victims if the novel coronavirus, but also all the people who are getting sick and hurt the way we always have.

Mullins said two additional floors were also opened up at the hospital, adding another 100 prep and recovery bays.

“It is awesome isn’t it? I am very proud of 613 leadership and their members,” said Fifth District International Vice President Brian Thompson. “It truly demonstrates the kindness and professionalism of our local and their leader and what the IBEW stands for, not only at work, but in the communities that we live in and we serve even in the worst of times. It’s a great job.”

This is far from Local 613’s only job expanding hospital capacity, Mullins said. In the last four weeks, he has had “hundreds” of members working across the state building emergency COVID tents, more than 30 total, each with the capacity to hold and treat up to 100 patients.

At Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, five tents, each negative pressure fans so potentially contaminated air doesn’t vent out into the public.

At Paulding County Hospital Local 613 members powered eight tents with the negative pressure fans and connected power for a temp morgue.

Floyd medical center in Rome needed temporary utility service for a mobile hospital and ICU trailers.

Piedmont Brookhaven: six tents. Northside Cherokee: two tents. Northside hospital Forsythe: two tents. The list goes on.

They even powered up Georgia Tech’s drive thru testing facility.

“I have never seen anything like this in the history of local 613,” Mullins said. “I’ve been telling my members, we don’t know if it is four more weeks or four more months, but it won’t be forever. But people will remember how we served our community in a moment of need.”