Members of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Local 611 worked on two alternative care hospitals to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, including one in Chinle, Ariz., pictured, on the Navajo Nation.
      Photo credit: David Mueller, B&D

Members of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Local 611, with help from a handful of travelers, have completed work on two hospitals to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic in the Southwest.

"I am extremely proud of our Local 611 members and travelers, whose skill set and determination are vital to our state during this pandemic,” said Business Manager Carl Condit. “Our members have worked around the clock to ensure we have adequate and dependable health care facilities, operated and maintained our power generation and transmission capability and are diligently providing critical support to our national security mission." 

About 16 members worked to rehabilitate the old Lovelace hospital at the Gibson Medical Center in Albuquerque into a 200-room facility covering about 75,000 square feet. The project ran from April 3 to April 18 with three crews working 24 hours a day. The facility includes 20 rooms to accommodate severely ill patients and 180 rooms for "non-acute infectious" patients.

Members also worked to repurpose a gymnasium in Chinle, Ariz., part of the Navajo Nation. The project included bringing in a temporary generator and automatic transfer switch to the 35-bed facility. Work began around April 20 and finished in early May.   

“These have been two of the most successful projects in terms of morale and production because of what’s at stake,” said Clinton Beall, senior vice president of signatory contractor B&D Industries. “We had people asking to work on these projects because of their importance, especially on the Navajo Nation.”

The Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, has the highest per capita rate of infections in the U.S., reported KRQE, a local news outlet. There have also been more fatalities than 13 states, in part due to a lack of hospital infrastructure.

Members on both projects received daily temperature checks and were given full face masks and gloves, as well as normal personal protective equipment, Beall said.

“Everyone did a really good job of staying safe, including distancing,” Beall said.

Both projects were done with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Gibson project was estimated to cost around $500,000.