The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 08, 2001

Covenant Health Care project displays union-contractor skills

By The Building Tradesman

SAGINAW - A tour last month of the new Covenant Health Care facility allowed Plumbers and Steam Fitters Local 85 and the Bay Area Association of Michigan Mechanical Contractors to put their best foot forward to promote their industry.

On hand were architects, engineers, owners, high school teachers and students, who received a first-hand look at a project that showcases the best in health-care industry piping systems - and the people who install it.

In the Local 85 jurisdiction, the knowledge to build such vital mechanical systems in health care facilities comes from union training centers in Saginaw in Traverse City, which spends $450,000 every year on training - without a dime of money coming from any governmental source. "We have been constantly upgrading our skills and our training centers to make sure we're on the cutting edge of technology," said Mark Lee, business manager of Local 85. "And we're very proud of our independence."

Covenant Health Care recently completed an expansion and consolidation program that resulted in a 700-bed facility, room for inpatient and outpatient clinics, and an emergency room capable of serving 5,000 patients a month.

The facility includes 25 miles of pipe, plus more than 300 plumbing fixtures, four boilers and six chillers. Visitors observed work in progress, including demonstrations of pipe flushing, as well as sanitizing, welding and brazing operations. During the walk-through, Remer Plumbing and the John E Green Co. demonstrated their skills and answered questions.

Young people on the tour were also given information about careers in the piping industry.

"What all this means is that when you choose a contractor who employs Local 85 people, you are assured of getting the best-trained, most professional people in the industry," Lee said.