The award-winning local start-up behind Hull’s new £8m ICU

17th Dec

While most new companies start small, one Hull-based construction management firm has wasted no time in achieving its ambitious plans with the completion of its latest project – Hull Royal Infirmary’s new state-of-the-art £8m intensive care unit, which opened its doors to critically ill patients this week.

Established in October 2020, Helix Construction Management Services’s vision was to deliver first-class healthcare construction projects. Within its first year of business, the company has successfully delivered construction projects for healthcare providers across East Yorkshire.

The achievement of its vision is clearly evident in the company’s latest project at Hull Royal Infirmary. Following a successful tender process, Helix CMS was commissioned to create the major trauma centre on behalf of Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, with an intensive programme of work beginning in March 2021.

The construction of the three-storey world class ICU, located next to the emergency department at Hull Royal Infirmary, features modern isolation facilities, allowing patients with infections to be safely treated under the same roof as other patients needing intensive care. The new unit ensures the region is in the best possible position to deal with any future waves of the Covid-19 virus alongside any other future pandemic.

Ross Bellingham, commercial director at Helix CMS, said: “We’re so proud to have worked on this project and be part of what’s been an incredible journey. We’re delighted to see the doors to this fantastic unit open, supporting critical care teams by providing some of the best intensive care facilities in the country.

“Covid-19 put the spotlight on resilience in healthcare. Not only have we created a modern environment with cutting edge equipment, working closely with the Trust and clinical staff we’ve ensured it’s fit-for-purpose, resilient and future-proof.

“We worked collaboratively to develop strong partnerships with the trust estates team and end-user groups in the early stages of this project, ensuring the new unit met the needs of both staff and patients.

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“Throughout the design period our team of professionals ensured engagement, inclusion and collaboration with relevant stakeholder input to ensure our designs met all regulatory, specification and operational requirements.”

The new unit will see patients receive specialist one-to-one care in glass-fronted cubicles, double the size of the cubicles in the hospital’s existing ICUs. There are 12 cubicles on the ground and first floor, split into identical halves separated by a central observation area for staff. Every cubicle has a Draegar ceiling pendant for essential services, including medical gases to maximize floor space and help staff perform their tasks. Electric hoists are fitted to allow staff to lift patients safely, helping to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems in the future. Cubicles are also fitted with negative air extraction systems to assist infection prevention and control.

The ICU has also been constructed in line with the Trust’s Zero Thirty campaign, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, 10 years earlier than national NHS targets.

Energy efficiency played a major role in the project. Working in partnership with local subcontractors, Helix CMS installed heat pumps, air conditioning, chillers and heat recovery systems, ensuring the ICU will remain cool enough for patients and staff in the summer but warm enough in the colder months.

Duncan Taylor, director of estates, facilities and development at Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, said: “Our team and the team at Helix have worked hand-in-hand with clinical colleagues to design the unit with their needs and the needs of the people they care for at the forefront of every decision.

“The result is an ICU that symbolises the future of critical care and I think it’s up there with the best. We build things that are value for money and my view is we should also have the best. Why shouldn’t Hull have the best facilities? We’re very proud that Hull and our Trust are at the forefront of this innovation.”

Working closely with staff, attention to detail has been given to every aspect of the patient and healthcare professionals experience. Everything from layout and colours to mood-boosting lighting and bespoke equipment has been considered. Staff areas have been painted bright yellow to boost morale and wellbeing while patient areas have been painted in ‘Recovery Green’.

Mark Pearson, construction director at Helix CMS, added: “At Helix CMS we pride ourselves on being experts in healthcare construction. Not only do we understand how to deliver top quality building projects in live healthcare environments with minimum disruption, we’re driven by integrity for the patient, staff and the environment.

“As a start-up business we have the advantage of agility and flexibility alongside an experienced team with a wealth of knowledge. And while we’re focused on looking for solutions and innovative ways to improve the patient experience, we’re constantly conscious of achieving sustainability.

“When we established the business in October 2020, the healthcare industry was at breaking point. The global pandemic and national lockdown meant it was a time of great uncertainty and there couldn’t really have been more challenging conditions in which to launch a business. However, our knowledge, experience, dynamism and determination to make a difference in supporting the healthcare industry has enabled us to not only survive, we’ve been able to thrive.”

Neil Sewell, CEO of Helix CMS, said: “Eco-social value is at the heart of Helix. As a forward thinking and modern company we take our corporate, social and environmental responsibilities regarding the needs of our employees, clients, sub-contractors and stakeholders very seriously. “Our goal is to be at the forefront of delivering highly sustainable projects and we’re delighted to have played a part in not only ensuring Hull has the best healthcare facilities in the region, but that we’re contributing to the NHS’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030.”

Helix has also recently handed over two completed projects: a refurbishment of the elderly assessment unit at Hull Royal Infirmary and the acute assessment unit at Castle Hill Hospital, which have run concurrently with the delivery of the ICU project. To continue its contribution towards the sustainability of the ICU, Helix CMS has donated a dedicated woodland area in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, to ensure its carbon impact today and in the future is reduced.

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