Press Release

June 25, 2020

Construction continues at Meritus Health’s Regional Infectious Containment Unit

Meritus RICUnit floorplan

HAGERSTOWN, MD – Beginning on March 19, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Matthei & Colin Associates was contacted by the administrative team at Meritus Health and asked a straight-forward question, “Can you help us design and build a 20 Bed, 12,500 SF Regional Infectious Containment Unit in less than 4 months?”.

M&CA’s quick response was, “Give us a one day to assemble a team to answer the question more fully.”  On the following morning, March 20, M&CA contacted Meritus Health with an affirmative answer and the go ahead was given. Meritus was already in negotiations with the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) for an emergency Certificate of Need (CON) for the project that hinged on speed to market. The CON was granted on March 21 and the next day the project began with a virtual meeting including all design team members titled: “The Countdown has Started, See Patients in 120 Days”

Matthei & Colin Associates (Architectural), Gilbane Building Company (Contractor/CM), Leach Wallace Associates (MEP), GRAEF-USA (Structural), Frederick Seibert & Associates (Civil) and Washington County Building Authorities joined forces to energize and execute the challenge. A decade earlier, the same team completed the new 510,000 SF, 267 bed replacement hospital on the same site in a record 30 months. The team was familiar with the building design and all the people associated with its’ continued success.  As the project proceeded, immediately the first critical steps were defined as:

1. Identify long lead materials/systems and get them ordered as we design the building.
2. Engage County and State officials to develop a plan to streamline the permit processes, while ensuring quality and safety of the final product.
3. Develop a schedule with major milestones identified along the critical path.

Daily virtual meetings, including owner representation, AHJ’s, contractors, engineers and architects occurs every day at 3:00 PM CST and will continue through project completion. Meetings last for 10 minutes to one hour depending on the discussion topic and provide a forum for all constituencies to update the team regarding progress, concerns, challenges and next steps. The local building code authorities have become an integral part of the design and planning process to help create a successful project recognizing a very aggressive time-frame.

1. Exterior metal stud wall framing will be fabricated on the ground to be lifted into place when the structural steel frame is in place.
2. Millwork and casework will be assembled in the largest and most complete units possible.
3. Headwalls will be prefabricated with all power, gases, outlets and light controls in place, reducing installation time and providing a single point of connection above  the ceiling.
4. Door hardware will be installed on doors off site, such that carpenters will spend minimal time in the project area.

Meritus Health has committed availability to provide guidance and critical design input including physicians, clinicians, facilities and key staff in the decision making process. The new RIC Unit is designed to incorporate all of the planned care and documentation practices to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and future events as they may occur. Matthei & Colin Associates has been a trusted partner with Meritus Health since 2000, continuing to support their mission to improve the health status of their region by providing comprehensive health services to patients and families. As our world moves faster and becomes more interconnected, this project proves we can embrace technology, remain flexible and continue to be responsive to the needs of our clients and the communities they serve.

March 19, 2020-  Initial phone call regarding project feasibility.
March 20, 2020-  Design team assembled and answer affirmative to Meritus.
March 21, 2020-  Emergency CON granted by the Maryland Health Care Commission for the project.
March 22, 2020-  Initial virtual meeting: “The countdown has started, see patients in 120 days.”
March 25, 2020-  Building floor plan and site plan agreed upon. Design team begins working on construction documents
March 31, 2020-  HVAC specifications were confirmed and the AHU ordered.
April 1, 2020-  Grading and site permit granted. Headwalls ordered.
April 2, 2020-  Structural design needed to accelerate far ahead of the architectural and MEP designs. Foundation permit granted.
April 3, 2020-  The AHU manufacturing plant has experienced a COVID-19 incident and shut down for two weeks to clean and reset.
April 6, 2020-  Design team redesigned over the weekend for a revised unit and released an order for an AHU from another manufacturer.
April 17, 2020-  Drawings submitted for permit to the city of Hagerstown.
April 18-28, 2020-  All sitework, underground utilities and foundations/slab on grade complete. General building permit approved.
April 29, 2020-  Steel erection begins. Fire Marshall comments reviewed and response prepared.
May 7, 2020-  Panelized wall framing and insulation begin erection.
May 11, 2020-  Masonry and roofing begin.
May 21-22, 2020-  Weather proofing is complete and mechanical equipment is on the roof.
May 27, 2020-  Masonry is complete and cleaned.
June, 2020- Under construction.
July 31, 2020-  Seeing first patients.




For more than a century, Meritus Health has been providing high-quality and compassionate health care to residents in western Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Meritus Medical Center, the health system’s flagship facility, is a Magnet® Recognized and Joint Commission accredited 256-bed community and teaching hospital that serves as the clinical training site for western Maryland’s only family medicine residency program. Originally named Washington County Hospital, the hospital relocated in 2010 and is known for cancer care, inpatient rehabilitation, cardiac care, a Level III trauma center and emergency department, a Level II special care nursery and women’s and children services. Meritus Medical Group, a network of 20 medical practices with more than 100 providers, also provides urgent care and the medical care of area nursing home residents.

Since 1974, Matthei & Colin Associates, LLC (M&CA) has specialized in the planning and design of health care environments. Through the passion of our creative effort, we have emerged today as one of the nation’s few firms exclusively dedicated to health care architecture. We are committed to collaborating with our clients by understanding the challenges and recognizing the opportunities.  Our singular focus on designing and creating health care environments and our productive client partnerships result in highly individualized planning recommendations to address the unique requirements of each project. Though a proven process of listening, asking, and creating, we translate dialogue into design.

For more information contact:

William Heun, AIA, Principal
Matthei & Colin Associates, LLC

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