The incredible transformation of a 1950s industrial unit into a superb 2020 hospital is on track.
A former motor plant factory is being transformed into the Bay Field Hospital with more than 1,000 extra beds to help the NHS fight Coronavirus.
Working with contractors Kier and TRJ, Swansea Council has – at maximum capacity – more than 200 skilled tradespeople working on the project. At certain times, 24-hour working is helping to prepare the site for the NHS in around two weeks.
Where there were sprawling concrete floors just two weeks ago there’s now a huge expanse of insulated wooden flooring for modern hospital wards.
Enormous, dark, drafty open spaces have been replaced by several kilometres of insulated wooden partition walls with clinical covering. Windows and doors will follow soon along with additional work to install medical equipment and beds.
The towering steel-framed factory roof is still there but increasingly out of sight due to new weatherproofed wooden ceilings being installed across an area the size of three football pitches.
There are expansive new systems across the 21,000 sq m building for electrics, plumbing, heating, lighting and ventilation.
A council more used to building homes is on track to build a hospital within the Bay Studios site, once home to motor giants Ford and Visteon.
The effort is being assisted by a fleet of construction hardware, including a 70-tonne crane, seven mobile lifts, two forklift trucks, two large excavators, two small diggers and four dumper trucks.
The aim is to have an initial 500 extra beds in place within two weeks to meet the anticipated demand at that time and then a further 500-plus beds will be in place within the following weeks.
As well as the areas for beds, there will be rest areas for the nursing staff, toilets, changing areas and catering areas to serve staff and patients.
The outer shell of the building remains, but the contractors’ work will create a modern and suitable hospital setting.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “It’s an amazing turnaround and I applaud all involved, including our staff, the workforce of our contractors, the health board and others. We’re pulling out all the stops to succeed in this huge task.
“Fantastic work is being carried out on site – everybody from industrial cleaning personnel to electricians and from joiners to IT specialists; everyone is working together tremendously well, supporting our community at this incredibly challenging time.
“We’re grateful to the site’s owners Welsh Government and Roy Thomas for being helpful in arranging to lease the building to the council – and to Neath Port Talbot Council as the site is just over the border from Swansea.
“The new Bay Field Hospital is vital in helping the NHS in its fight against Coronavirus. The extra beds will largely cater for those patients who are recovering which means those suffering severe effects of Coronavirus can be treated at Morriston and Singleton Hospitals.”
Council chief executive Phil Roberts said: “This is a first for the council and all those who work for it on behalf of people across Swansea.
“It’s an incredible effort. I thank all our staff involved in pulling this amazing project together. Their effort, expertise and dedication shows that they’re here for Swansea – as they always are.”
Jason Taylor, operations director for Kier Regional Building Western & Wales, said: “We are working swiftly and safely to convert Bay Studios in to a temporary hospital to assist the NHS in its response to Covid-19.
“Alongside our partner TRJ and our local supply chain, we currently have around 200 people on site seven days a week as we work collaboratively to deliver this new hospital setting.”
A TRJ spokesperson said: “We are both pleased and proud to be doing our part in the fight against Covid-19.
“The dedication shown by our workforce, supply chain and partner (Kier) has led to great progress being made on site.
“We are extremely grateful to all those who have made – and continue to make – this phased transformation in the building possible within such a short period of time.
“Please stay safe and make a difference where possible.”
Nearby, the first of two field hospitals providing up to 1,340 temporary beds for residents of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot with Coronavirus is almost ready.
A record-breaking effort has seen contractors work around the clock since the end of March to transform Llandarcy Academy of Sport and Bay Studios.
Llandarcy Field Hospital is expected to be handed over to Swansea Bay University Health Board within days. Work at the Bay Field Hospital is scheduled to be available shortly after Llandarcy.
The public, health and private sectors, along with further education, are working closely together in an unprecedented response to safeguard the health and well-being of people in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
The two field hospitals will not provide care for the very sickest COVID-19 patients. These patients will continue to be treated in the area’s main hospitals.
Instead the two field hospitals will be for patients who need lower levels of clinical care – including those who will wait for a very short time prior to going home.
This will ensure there is space in the main sites for those who need intensive care, emergency care or oxygen therapy if they have COVID-19 or other emergency conditions.