By now, anyone who has been in the area of Wickenburg Community Hospital has seen WE O’Neil signs on the fences around two major construction projects.
WE O’Neil is the general contractor for the hospital’s new surgical/diagnostic center and a second medical office building.
WE O’Neil was founded in 1925 in Chicago by William E O’Neil, and has remained a family and employee owned company since then. Now with locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, Ontario, California, Denver, Chicago, and Brentwood, Tenn., the company is widely known for large-scale construction projects as well as smaller facilities such as the hospital addition in Wickenburg.
The company’s website shows a multitude of projects completed by WE O’Neil. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Mesa, Bellmont Village Scottsdale, Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, and the Ritz Carlton Resort at Dove Mountain in Phoenix and Tucson are a few of the projects in Arizona. Numerous hotels, apartment buildings, schools, churches, fitness centers, youth centers, fire departments, casinos, airport building and other projects have been completed under WE O’Neil
The expanse of the company’s collective accomplishments did not prevent it from bidding the relatively small project at Wickenburg Hospital. “We really like working in rural communities,” WE O’Neil President John Hobbs said while visiting the Wickenburg project recently. He mentioned the company recently completed a medical office building in Sierra Vista and is constructing one now in Yuma.
Project Superintendent Mike Gillis, originally from the Chicago area, agreed building in smaller communities has advantages, “The people here are great. The Town has been awesome. Everyone works with you, rather than against you,” he said.
Work is already underway for both buildings in Wickenburg. After a $7.5 million capital campaign and a subsequent loan from the USDA, community Hospital broke ground on a diagnostic/surgical center, which will adjoin the existing hospital, as well as a second medical office building on rose Lane across from the hospital’s emergency entrance. Gillis said working on an existing facility presents challenges in that the operation of the hospital should not be interrupted despite the need to move things like the power lines and the oxygen tank which currently service the hospital. Additionally, the landing pad for the helicopter is just across the fence from the construction site, so each time a flight comes in, the crew must secure all of its materials from the winds whipped up by the chopper and move to a safe location as the helicopter lands or takes off.
In addition, noise management, dust abatement and other considerations are primary concerns as construction proceeds. “We want to be invisible, but we know that won’t always be the case,” Hobbs said. “A lot of hours are spent talking about what is needed and using the collective knowledge of all who are involved to best solve the challenges.”
Gillis is confident the impact on day-to-day usage of the hospital will continue to be minimal. Already, much of the utility work is done, as about 15 workers have been preparing the building pads. In the near future, about 30 workers will be on site daily, and as many as 50 during the height of construction. Gillis said about 35 subcontractors are participating in the project. While most of the building contractors are from outside the Wickenburg area, Gillis noted they are using local businesses for some of the necessary services such as portable toilets, dumpsters, and rock delivery, as well as workers purchasing supplies in local stores and eating at area restaurants.
Both WE O’Neil officials attended the groundbreaking, and they look forward to unveiling the new buildings to Wickenburg. “These will be more than just medical buildings; they will be beautiful facilities, something the community can really be proud of,” Hobbs said.
As of now, both buildings’ schedules are on track. The medical office building is expected to open in Spring 2016, and the surgical/diagnostic center will be completed approximately 60 days later.
Published originally in the Wickenburg Sun | Written by Jeanie Williams Editor Wickenburg Sun