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U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa moves to Camp Foster

Published Sept. 5, 2013

OKINAWA, Japan - With an eventful Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on 30 Apr 2013, the US Naval Hospital Okinawa (USNH-O) celebrated its Grand Opening at its new location, Camp Foster.  The US Naval Hospital Okinawa Complex Relocation is part of the Government of Japan (GoJ) Host Nation (HN) Program, Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) land return initiative.  This historic move marks an important step forward in the process to reduce the impact of the US military presence in Okinawa, thus strengthening the Japan-US Alliance.  In addition, the hospital relocation starts a brand new chapter in the history of the US Army Corps of Engineers, as the former US Naval Hospital at Camp Lester was built by the Corps in 1958. 

The culmination of the USNH-O project represents a collaborative partnership between the US Government (USG) and Government of Japan (GoJ), driven by the disciplined efforts of the Project Delivery Team (PDT).  This diverse PDT was effectively led by the Okinawa Area Office, Japan Engineer District (POJ), working together with Pacific Ocean Division (POD), Regional Technical Center (RTC), Huntsville Center of Expertise for Medical Design (MX), Navy Medicine West-Okinawa Detachment (NMW), US Naval Hospital Okinawa (USNH), US Marine Corps, Facilities Engineer (G-F), US Forces Japan (USFJ) and Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) for the GoJ.

For more than a decade, PDT members were dedicated to this comprehensive project, starting in Apr 2000 with development of the Preliminary Criteria Package to the Criteria Package, Design Definitive Drawings, and Design, which was completed in Aug 2009.  Hospital construction began in Mar 2009, and was completed in Jun 2012, to facilitate the customer’s outfitting and transition for the final hospital move by Mar 2013.

The US Naval Hospital Okinawa is the largest overseas hospital in the US Navy, with a beneficiary population of 55,000 on Okinawa, serving as the primary referral center for the Western Pacific.  The new 4-story hospital with half basement totals 41,140 SM (442,827 SF) and includes 86 beds and 20 nursery bassinets (including 14 bassinets for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  Unique design features of the new hospital include:  earthquake resistant “base isolation” foundation system; ice storage to reduce peak power demands of cooling systems; rooftop solar electrical panels; and 4-day full-capacity emergency back-up of generator and fuel, potable water and sewage storage.  Other hospital complex projects completed include:  Central Utility Plant; Helipad; Switch Station; Back-up Sewage and Water Tanks; Hospital Warehouse; Hazard/Flammable Storage; Public Works and Transportation Facility; Waste Treatment Facility; Water Supply Tanks; and Bachelor Enlisted Quarters.  Upcoming projects include:  Blood Storage Facility; Preventive Medical and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center; Bachelor Officer Quarters; Multi-Purpose Facility; and Recreation Facility. 

Besides solar panels and ice storage systems, other sustainable features included:  cultural asset surveys, energy saving ballasts in fluorescent fixtures, occupancy lighting sensors, room brightness control sensors, environmentally-friendly materials, timer-controlled exterior lighting dimmer switch, low flow sanitary fixtures, self-re-charging faucet sensors, and day-lighting via multiple light courts.

While the project required strict adherence to US life safety and fire protection regulations, including stringent US Joint Commission requirements, it was also subject to Japanese laws and regulations.  Proactive measures were taken to prepare the USNH-O customer for formal US Joint Commission inspections.  Working with the POJ life safety consultant, the team prepared Statement of Conditions (SoC) supporting documentation for establishing equivalency of Japanese-manufactured building life safety features and equipment to US criteria.  Particular focus areas included:  fire protection systems, elevators, architectural features, means of egress and emergency power. 

The hospital included substantial quantities of specialized equipment furnished by the USG and installed by GoJ/USG.  With the large volume of installed equipment, the team developed equipment plot plans to integrate general equipment and specialized systems (i.e., MRI, CT, x-ray, medical gas, security, etc.) between engineering and construction disciplines, and mitigate potential problems in the field.        

The PDT readily sought learning opportunities and specialized expertise for continual improvement.  In Sep 2010, POJ and NMW team members visited the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital project to gain insight for best practices.  In Jun 2011, POJ facilitated an American Society of Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Healthcare Construction Certification Course in Okinawa for PDT members, including customers.  The team applied knowledge of specialized healthcare requirements to inspection of aseptic areas, fire-stopping, fire doors, HVAC systems, medical gas and healthcare equipment (i.e., MRI, x-ray, security systems, etc.).

Safety on the jobsite is a foremost priority.  Safety procedures included frequent review of safety plans, joint safety inspections, mandatory power outage meetings, and newcomer briefings.  Safety initiatives specific to Okinawa include typhoon preparations, prevention of heat illnesses and unexploded ordnance (UXO) procedures.  During the past three years, the team safely managed seven (7) UXO findings and ten (10) typhoon events.   By promoting a proactive safety culture at the jobsite, the team achieved an exceptional safety record of 3,100,000 man hours with no serious injuries or accidents. 

During the Red Zone Phase, final inspections, commissioning/testing, O&M training, and closeout activities were conducted.  The PDT provided oversight of GoJ commissioning and testing activities for major systems including:  HVAC, boilers, generators, uninterruptable power source (UPS), EMCS, intrusion detection systems, fire protection systems, electrical systems, communications, and elevators.  In addition to normal construction activities, the team monitored hospital-specific items to include health care fire safety construction, installation of specialized equipment, infection control, life safety items, and certified inspections of medical gas systems.  Additionally, the team supported the customer in facilitating specialized inspections (i.e., radiology shielding, laboratory fume hoods, elevator inspections, boiler certifications, etc.).

As the largest medical facility constructed under the GoJ Host Nation Program, the US Naval Hospital Okinawa represents a distinct landmark which embodies the dedication and selfless service of the hardworking team.   With the successful delivery of the US Naval Hospital Okinawa Complex Relocation, the team’s accomplishments truly reflect the USACE Vision to be:  "A great engineering force of highly disciplined people working with our partners through disciplined thought and action to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the Nations engineering challenges.


Release no. 13-038