Earning his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Illinois State University, Dan Patarozzi has been involved in providing professional construction services for over 20 years. A critical moment in his career occurred in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy hit New York. The emergency department expansion he was working on at the time was flooded, and Patarozzi led the effort to get the project back online in 12 months.
More recently, Patarozzi applied that emergency response expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic to help address the surge in patients. In March 2020, as the New York City administration required all hospitals to increase their capacity by a minimum of 50 percent, NYC Health + Hospitals and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contacted Skanska to help convert three floors of North Central Bronx Hospital into a 120-bed ICU within 90 days. Patarozzi says he knew the project’s aggressive schedule meant he needed to quickly align project partners to understand goals, expectations, and schedule.
As operations lead the project, Patarozzi conducted daily update calls with all key stakeholders to deliver up-to-date information and discuss crucial elements of rapid response, such as streamlining inspections. Patarozzi worked closely with the project team to outline possible strategies, while relying on their knowledge and industry relationships to procure equipment in an accelerated time frame, including multiple air handling units in six weeks.
In addition, it addressed worker safety and health by installing an exterior forklift in the building so that all workers had access to the project site, and implemented daily health screenings with an on-site paramedic. Through his leadership, the project team delivered 20 ICU beds in the first 30 days and the remaining 100 beds in the next two months.
Patarozzi also took the opportunity to maximize FEMA funding to upgrade the hospital, which had not received major improvements since it opened in 1974, including purchasing additional air handling units, upgrading the facility’s oxygen farm, and the creation of new administrative spaces. “It’s amazing when you take a group of people, many of whom have never worked together before, and in a matter of weeks you develop a cohesive team,” he says. And its success was achieved thanks to Patarozzi’s place in it.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy leading teams and mentoring younger professionals to help them grow and become leaders. I think your team at work is your family too. If you have teamwork and a sense of family in a workplace and you care about the person sitting next to you, then I don’t know why you would want to work any other way.
Who inspires you?
My family at home and at work. It’s great to have a job that really impacts other people’s lives in a positive way.
What’s the next big trend you anticipate for healthcare design?
As a contractor, we are seeing the healthcare industry becoming more interested in collaborative delivery methods. Working under an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), “IPD lite” or other similar contract focuses on creating an integrated environment, leading to better teamwork between the designer, contractor, owner, and other key stakeholders. .
What did you learn in the past year?
The power of teamwork. The North Central Bronx Hospital ICU project is an example that anything is possible when a team is fully committed and focused on the bottom line.