Wolgast Blog

Prioritizing School’s Needs for ESSER Funds

Posted by Cory Sursely on 10/13/2021

EsserFundsThere are so many decisions to make as schools get back to in-person learning and doing everything they can to make school safer, catch students up from remote learning, and expand mental health accommodations, among other needs. School leaders, administrators, and teachers have so much on their plates, oh, and are also dealing with volatile views from parents about how to handle it all.

The CARES Act ESSER Fund is meant to alleviate some of the pressure while making schools cleaner and safer, and allow school leaders to determine how to make in-person or virtual learning more impactful for students at every learning level and socio-economic status. The ESSER Funds are significant funds with some flexibility about how to use them. There is a list of items that can be covered or provided by the U.S. Department of Education and schools can pick and choose how to apply the funds.

Among many other applications, ESSER Funds can be used for replacement of items involving indoor air treatment. Allowable uses include HVAC, doors, windows, flooring, social distancing, and more. Unknown to most, there is a path, albeit narrow, that does allow ESSER to be used for new construction. All uses of funds do need to be approved by the Michigan Department of Education, however.

There are many ways that ESSER funds can be utilized and we are assisting School Districts across the State to strategically make plans to use these one-time allocations so the funds are most impactful.

Wolgast’s Facility Team can help schools to assess their needs. They are former School Superintendents who understand what schools are facing. And should a school’s plan involve their HVAC system, we can help with those building changes.

Call us for a free assessment and we’d be happy help you develop a plan or view our Education Construction Services page to find out more about Wolgast's Construction Management Services.

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

Patient Flow Optimizes the Design of Your Practice Floorplan

Posted by Cory Sursely on 8/16/2021

When a patient walks through the door of a doctor’s office, whether it’s a family physician, chiropractor, dentist or veterinarian, he or she needs to easily find the check-in area to make his or her attendance known.  Patients may not know that check-in area starts off a whole path that they will follow while receiving treatment through paying their bill, also known as patient flow.

Architects that are specialized in medical office design closely analyze a practice’s patient flow to determine the location of rooms and activity areas in a practice.  An office that is inefficiently designed can cause unnecessary delays or bottlenecks in the care of patients, problems complying with HIPAA regulations, miscommunication among staff members, and possibly a frustrated doctor.  An orderly and well designed patient flow has patients moving in a circular motion, so patients don’t have to back track nor cross paths with other patients.  Doctor and staff are able to easily locate each other to communicate effectively and supply areas are easily accessible by staff members for quick set-up of rooms after each patient visit.

Wolgast Architect and medical office design expert, Rick Keith, offers two design examples, below, based on the size of your practice needs and the patient flow theories behind each.

New Construction of a Small Medical Office Small Medical Office Design

In smaller offices, a single hallway is typically used.  Although not preferable, it reduces the size of the building and the cost of construction.  The hallway should be wide enough that patients can pass each other in opposite directions, especially patients with wheel chairs or walkers.

A check-out alcove should be created so patients stand or sit out of the hallway.  Often, this alcove area is also where personal information may be gathered, if needed, from patients while they’re checking in.  Staff should be careful to avoid having two patients giving personal information at the same time.

 New Construction of a Large Medical Office

Large Medical Office Design 

In a larger office setting it’s desirable to circulate patients one way around a central business/support core.  This circular pattern avoids a bottleneck with personal intake (check-in) and check-out.  It also avoids privacy (HIPAA) issues with patients standing together giving personal information.

At the reception window, it’s preferable for a patient to avoid verbal communication with staff members.  Many offices prefer patients write their name to check-in.  The receptionist then marks through the name to avoid other patients from seeing it.

It’s preferable to have a patient step inside the door separated from the waiting room to give personal information.

Our team wants to design and construct comfortable, relevant and efficient spaces for you to provide patient care.  Please share with us any thoughts you may have about improving your practice.

 

Medical Services

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Dental Office Construction

How to Design an Office for Patient Centered Medical Home

Posted by Cory Anderson on 7/13/2021

GFPSince the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is more of a management model or philosophy, you may not have considered the building design changes that may be necessary to make the conversion.  Below we discuss some of the elements that your PCMH office design should consider.

2021 Updates

We first wrote this blog prior to Covid-19 and the growth of telemedicine and have a few new remodel suggestions for post pandemic medical offices.  While, digital healthcare may remain an option, which could reduce the number of patients coming to your physical location, space in your waiting area as people continue to distance from each other may need a new layout/design.  Also a designated space to conduct your telemedicine calls, especially when bringing in specialists, as part of your PCMH operation, could be helpful for your practice to effectively provide services.

Storage Space

Electronic Medical Records are a key tenet of the PCMH model, however as practices transition into PCMH offices, one could expect to increase file storage requirements due to the added patient education and follow up.  Additionally, you’ll be accumulating the documentation from each visit your patient has with a specialist or key staff member inside or outside your office and therefore your space requirements will need to be addressed in physical space or specially designed spaces, such as climate controlled areas that accommodate computer servers and databases.

Meeting Space

Collaboration is another key of the PCMH model.  Practice doctors and staff members will be having meetings among themselves about their cases as well as consultation meetings with specialists, group meetings held for patients with similar conditions, and patient education sessions.  All of these types of meetings will require private and comfortable space to allow for most optimal conditions for patients, and for easy patient access.

Privacy Measures

With additional files and open areas for communication comes more responsibility for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance.  The design of your building will need to account for the privacy of verbal communication and protection of patient files.

Spare Exam/Treatment Rooms

We have recently completed the construction of a large PCMH office which included in its design additional exam and treatment rooms for visiting specialty doctors, so they can come to the patient rather than having the patient travel to the doctor.  This is a clear benefit to serving your patients with the PCMH model.

Dr. Michael Shepard, M.D., Ph.D., Wolgast Corporation’s medical office development specialist, along with Rick Keith, Wolgast Design Group’s architect experienced in designing for PCMH, can provide insight in the designing of an office remodel or a new building.  Contact Dr. Shepard at 800-965-4278 to discuss the design and construction of your next building.

 

 

Medical Services

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Design

You Have Construction Service Options

Posted by Cory Anderson on 7/6/2021

constructionWhich construction delivery system is best for your project?

There are several unique and distinctive methods for providing construction solutions. As a business owner you have the luxury of selecting the most beneficial and appropriate delivery system for your type of project.

Design/Build

The Owner hires one firm to provide architectural design and construction services in a phased approach.  The design/builder becomes the single-source that is responsible for designing the building, estimating the budget, hiring the subcontractors and coordinating the schedule to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

It’s the design/builder’s sole responsibility to complete the project to the client’s satisfaction.  The architect and contractor are the same entity, which eliminates misunderstandings as they collaborate throughout the design process.  The design/builder becomes the owner’s advocate securing multiple bids for each trade and leading them through site planning, permitting, design, value engineering and construction.  The phased approach provides economical/budget information early for the owner to decide if the project is a go or no-go.

Design/build is suitable for busy owners who don't have the time to oversee construction.  It’s also a fast-track method or a fast construction process for projects with a tight schedule.

Construction Management

A construction manager’s (CM) role as part of the project team is to provide estimating and constructability review during design, and cost, time and quality control during construction.  The client establishes their team of architect, CM and owner’s representative at the onset of the building concept.  The architect is responsible for defining the building through drawings and specifications while the CM regulates and monitors the schedule, budget, materials and performance of the subcontractors.  The owner thoroughly informed by these professionals, can then make educated decisions about his or her project.

The owner must be willing to be involved in the process because by using the CM method each trade contract is signed with the owner.  The CM method is most suitable for those who construction is a recurring activity and/or their project is very large, like schools and retail chains.

General Construction

Considered the design/bid/build method, the owner typically already has plans which were prepared by an outside architect/engineer when they seek a general contractor.  They choose their general contractor by one of three methods, 1) negotiating with one or more contractors of their choice, 2) selecting a group of contractors to bid and then accepting the lowest bid, 3) advertising for a broad variety of bids and accepting the lowest.

For clients who have a simple construction project, general construction is likely the appropriate construction solution.  It’s also the right choice when it’s necessary to bid and then build a project based upon completed plans and specifications.  However, this method leaves little room for correction of design or programmatic errors, if any exist.

Leaseback

The contractor finances, builds and leases a new facility back to a qualified owner, allowing him or her to focus on his or her business.  This is the best option for businesses that are faced with the need to expand their floor-space while at the same time minimize the risk involved with tying up capital in construction costs.

Business owners who qualify and currently have all their working capital in their business without a budget for building their new space are candidates for leaseback.  By choosing leaseback, they can move their business to a prime location and get the space tailored to their design needs.  The owner has the option to purchase at a future date when the business warrants the investment.

Still not sure which one works best for you? Call us to discuss your options.  At Wolgast Corporation, all systems are in place to provide the most appropriate delivery method. 

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Restaurant Construction, Leaseback, Dental Office Construction, Manufacturing Construction

Construction of New Tech High Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on 2/17/2021

Meridian-Schools_newtech.jpgThe New Tech Network is designed to target disinterested students, while still reaching those who are already college bound. And it is working because their report, "2020 Impact Report", shows that New Tech High School students are 10% more likely to go onto college compared to the national average.  And added 14 new schools to their network in 2020.

The New Tech Curriculum is fairly new as it only started in the mid 90’s, but it already has proven results.  On their website, www.newtechnetwork.org, they state, “NTN schools consistently outperform national comparison groups on measures of higher order thinking skills, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates”.  Each student is provided with a computer and the necessary tools to complete “project-based learning” as a group.  In this type of environment, students learn open collaboration and problem solving skills.  The program goal is “to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow”.  For 2020, they have had to adapt quickly and create meaningful distance-learning for students.

At the time of publishing this blog, fourteen schools in Michigan have incorporated the New Tech curriculum.  Wolgast has gained experience with constructing New Tech High Schools over the past few years.  We have provided Construction Management services for remodeling Meridian New Tech High School in Sanford, Michigan.  They became one of the earliest schools in Michigan to adopt the New Tech High School curriculum for their freshman class in 2010. Then in 2016, they hired Wolgast again to complete the necessary renovations to the existing high school to allow for the extensive wiring, networking and group spaces required for the technically focused program. The curriculum stayed with those that started it as freshmen in 2010 and then extended to all following classes.  Since 2010, we have also completed more renovations to make room for the addition of students and their space and technological needs, including updates to science labs and media centers.  Meridian is focused on getting their students "Career Ready. College Bound" according to their website. They have also converted their Junior High and Elementary schools into the New Tech Network.

The difference with remodeling or constructing a New Tech school stems from each space needing to be adaptable for multiple group work stations for a variety of situations.  A higher level of coordination is the key for the Construction Manager to oversee a smooth project and account for the necessary flexibility plus technical and data accommodations.

If you’re considering adopting this curriculum for your school, you should contact the New Tech Network; however, if you need a Construction Manager to complete the renovation to your school, call Wolgast Corporation who can apply their best practices to your project.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

Certificate of Need and Your Design/Build Contractor

Posted by Cory Sursely on 11/24/2020

Ambulatory Surgery CenterUpdated 11/24/20: The controversial Certificate of Need (CON) program in Michigan is in question through several new bills that passed the Michigan Senate in February 2020.  It has yet to be decided in the House.  The debate has been ongoing and seems to be getting more and more heated with those against it arguing for an open market approach to drive down cost and those for it are claiming that the medical industry needs to be regulated to keep a high standard of care at an affordable cost.

Furthermore, as we hear in the news more often, medical groups are having difficulty securing their CON in saturated Metro Areas of Michigan because a premise of the CON has been to drive medical care to regions where there is less medical access.  A positive note is, due to regionalism and urban sprawl, there are new populated pockets where medical services are less saturated and CONs are still available.

As a Design/Builder that has been through the CON process several times with our medical group clients, we wanted to offer you some insider tips to getting through the application.  First and foremost, it’s important to build your team of CON/Design/Construction experts before you even look for your property.  Enlist your CON consultant and contractor to help you find an area that has CON capacity and also will accommodate your building/parking lot size.  Additionally, you’re architect plays a big role during the application period as you’ll need to submit schematic drawings, project narrative, site development plan and design fees, in the CON submittal package.  The contractor provides the estimated cost of the project, which is also required with the application.  And, obviously, having a CON consultant on the team provides an expert when navigating around the requirements and bringing all the necessary documentation together with accuracy, so that there are no setbacks from missing or incorrect information during the application process.  It could save you two weeks or more in your review time and provide insider know-all advantages.

When you work with Wolgast Corporation as your design/build expert, we already have an established team of architect, engineer, medical construction specialists and CON consultant that have been through the CON process together.  We’ve helped doctor groups find suitable locations with available CON credits and also with renovations, additions and new builds to help them grow their surgery centers.  Through our Design/Build construction service, we satisfy all necessary requirements to help you move through the application process as efficiently as possible.

Learn more about our Design/Build construction services below, or call Dr. Michael Shepard to discuss how we can help you expand, 800-WOLGAST. 

Design/Build  the Wolgast Way

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Design, Good for Business, Risk Management

Five of the Best Reasons for a Commercial Building Renovation

Posted by Cory Sursely on 7/17/2020

Commercial Renovation to Stay Put

renovationYou either really like your building the way that it is, your location is part of your long-term plan, or financially speaking a new building is out of the question.  Those are all good reasons to stay where you are.  However, I’d like to share with you a few of the best reasons to consider renovating where you are currently.

1)  Improve traffic to your business – we have seen it time and again that renovating a commercial space peaks the interest of local people.  It also provides additional promotional opportunities because having a renovated space to talk about creates a whole new advertising campaign.  Whether you’re a doctor, restaurant or a school, you consistently want to attract new people to your space, right?  This is a great way to do it while improving your building investment.

2)  Make your current operations more efficient – a company’s business and flow of work obviously changes over time.  A renovation or redesign can help improve efficiency and provide the right amount of space for staff to complete their tasks.  Whether you need more or repurposed space, a redesign should be well thought out to improve your operations.  Through a needs analysis meeting, your architect will be able to determine the spatial needs of your organization.

3)  Accommodate the addition of new equipment – you know that piece of equipment that will allow you to do more with less effort?  You've been thinking about it for a while.  Now is the time to make room for it and improve your bottom line.

4)  Incorporate new energy efficient changes to save on costs – the green market is expanding every day and continues to offer products to make your space more energy efficient.  An update of your heating/cooling system, electrical system, windows and/or insulation could save you a lot of money on energy costs each year.

5)  Take advantage of competitive pricing/low commercial loan rates – should you need a loan to complete your commercial renovation, interest rates are remarkably low at the moment and there is the option of the SBA 504, too.  Take advantage while you can. Also, currently, construction competition is high and material prices are a little lower, so it may be a great time to get even more value for your project.

Pretty much, it all boils down to your business being relevant, efficient, and interesting.  If you already have all those things going for you, you’re all set.  If you need a construction consultant to help you start planning, call Michael Shepard at 989-790-9120.

 

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Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Good for Business

Key Elements that Help Our CM Division Achieve Team Cohesion

Posted by Cory Sursely on 7/6/2020

CMGears_Construction Management is the ideal delivery method for large, complex construction projects, such as those for School Districts.  School Boards and Superintendents rely on their Architect and Construction Manager (CM) to form dynamic teams to fulfill a project’s goals and seamlessly deliver their buildings on time and within budget.  Team cohesion is the goal on each of our projects.  Taking into consideration that we are possibly working with new and diverse players with each new School District, this takes effort and coordination to achieve.  An experienced CM typically will have vast resources and relationships with a wide variety of Prime Contractors, but when bidding projects, an unfamiliar contractor may be more suitable in achieving the schedule, budget, or meet proximity requirements of local contractor, therefore, we have tools that we use to initiate them onto the team as a cohesive member.

According to isixsigma.com, a communications company for process improvement professionals, the definition of cohesiveness is “the extent to which team members stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal”.  In order to achieve our goal of team cohesion, Wolgast has tools and processes in our arsenal with checks and balances and those that provide quick corrective measures when a team member strays from our target. 

Wolgast is a systemized company and we have over 200 systems in place to consistently provide our work functions.  These systems include the means to vet a prime contractor prior to entering into a contract with them, and checks and balances such as forms and reports monitoring progress throughout construction, and evaluations of work.  Your CM is there to guide a team for high performance and work product, cohesion doesn’t just happen without a lot of leg work and checking that all moving parts are on track.

Additionally, we’re an Employee-Owned Company (ESOP), which means that our staff is personally vested in the success of each project. Another benefit of an ESOP is that employees tend to stay for the long haul.  We have staff members that have been with the company a long time who help us maintain our standards and pass down the leadership lessons learned by mentoring new staff.  So we’re able to pass along the key management paths to establishing a high functioning team committed to a project.

Finally, we’ve invested in state-of-the-art Construction Management software that helps keep communication open in real time.  By implementing it, each team member has accountability visible to everyone involved and the goals are openly shared.  We find that it helps guide us naturally to develop team cohesion in real time with notifications and updates pushed out to team members with alerts and bells and whistles.  We are a high end user of this software and have been asked to participate in future updates to make the software work even better for team cohesion and quality assurance.

Your CM wants each project to be successful and rewarding for the client, architect, and all the team players.  You should select one that has the knowledge and capabilities to be organized and committed to delivering just that.

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Tags: Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

Four Things You Should Know When Planning a Groundbreaking Ceremony

Posted by Cory Sursely on 9/10/2019

groundbreaking_1When building a new business or relocating, it pays to start your publicity early.  An inexpensive way to create buzz is to host a groundbreaking or a “kickoff” ceremony at the beginning of your project.  I’ve had clients who’ve broke ground both before starting a project or soon after a project has started, with construction being the backdrop during the ceremony.  We call it a project “kickoff” instead of “groundbreaking” when we renovate an existing building.

There are many ways to conduct your event; however there are four key items that will help you when planning a groundbreaking ceremony:


1.  As I mentioned previously, promotion and, of course, thanking the people who helped make your project possible are usually the purposes of having a groundbreaking ceremony.  However, the origination of these ceremonies predates time.  Whether it was a primitive tradition to ask for forgiveness and protection from the earth or a spiritual ritual of making a “sacred deposit” to bless the site, every culture on each continent has engaged in a groundbreaking ceremony to begin a construction project. 

2.  You don’t have to worry about inclement weather.  Of course, you hope for the best, but plan for the worst, which means that you have shelter and a container full of dirt on standby to use for the turning of the soil.  As the contractor, we provide a tent, podium, shovels, hard hats, umbrellas and a container full of soil, just in case of rain (or because we’re in Michigan, snow).  Additionally, you should have chairs, tables, trash bins and food service items if your contractor doesn’t already provide them (we do).

3.  Provide plenty of time when sending invitations.  At least two weeks before should be the cut-off for sending.  Include all people who made the project possible, i.e. community officials, banker, staff, networking groups, clients, contractor, architect, etc.  Note: be sure to announce key people during your speech.  And, of course, don’t forget to invite the media to the occasion.  Radio stations, TV news programs, and newspapers are all interested in showing business growth in their community; however, if they aren’t able to attend, be sure to send a press release and pictures that you take of your speakers and the turning of the soil.

4.  I’ve mentioned that you or a representative of your company will be making a speech about the project.  Quite often, we are asked what should be said during this speech, so I’ve included a sample agenda of a groundbreaking ceremony with a duration of 15-30 minutes.

 

Sample Groundbreaking Ceremony Agenda

 

Wolgast is a comprehensive general contractor located in Saginaw, Michigan.  We are specialized in Design/Build, Construction Management, General Construction, and Insurance Restoration in the markets of Restaurants, Schools, Medical, Dental, and Manufacturing.  For more than 70 years, we have provided our professional construction services throughout Michigan and beyond.  We are happy to discuss The Wolgast Way with you at 800-WOLGAST!

Tags: the Wolgast Way, Good for Business

Tips to Pass a School Bond Election

Posted by Cory Sursely on 9/4/2019

vote-1319435_1920We have found that there’s not a single formula to passing a school bond vote.  Every community is different in regard to their support of their school district, so each campaign needs to be tweaked and managed.  However, Wolgast's School Facility Specialists have discovered a couple of tactics over the years as former School Superintendents on how to give every bond campaign a better chance for success and offer their expertise as part of our Pre-Bond Services.

First, the most important aspect of a success­ful millage election is staff and community involvement in the planning process. With that said, the likelihood of the passage of a millage proposal is determined days and even months prior to the election.  The devel­opment of the bond proposal, the inclusion of groups that will be af­fected by it, along with the marketing plan and execution are all key ingredients that will help lead to a successful election.

Another key is to focus on the supportive voters rather than spending your budget or energy on converting the opposed voters.  Then help the supporters by reminding them of registration deadlines, and when and where to vote.

Sometimes Districts can qualify for state and federal funding programs to help supplement building projects.  When qualifying for the additional funding, School Districts were able to ask voters to approve smaller bond amounts while securing enough budget to complete their construction needs.  Bond elections pass as voters recognize the savings to their District’s general fund to help maintain safety and educational programs.

To find out more about the funding programs or to have a free seminar with our School Facility Consultants please call 800-WOLGAST.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction