Murphy Company Innovates to Fight Against COVID-19

April 24, 2020

Murphy Company is playing an important role in their communities’ fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As the number of citizens requiring hospitalization has surged, so has the need for additional isolation rooms on a quick-turn schedule. The pandemic has presented additional challenges, and Murphy Company has met them all with innovative and fast-moving solutions.

St. Joseph Hospital

In an effort to convert standard patient rooms to negative pressure rooms, Murphy’s creative team figured out a way to install temporary ductwork along the building by feeding the room through a window, with HEPA filtration located on the roof of the St. Charles, MO hospital.

The fast-paced project converted rooms in 17 hours with an average crew size of six working around the clock (7:00 am – 12:00 am).

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St. Anthony North Health Campus

Murphy Company converted a floor of standard patient rooms to negative pressure rooms for this job. From inception to turnover, this was done in 7 calendar days.

Project Timeline

  • April 1: Design team finalized plans and drawings with the St. Anthony North Health Campus team
  • April 2: Crew started layout, sketched and moved to fabrication
  • April 3: Roof curbs were installed
  • April 4: A weekend crane pick was staged to install the new exhaust fans. The sheet metal shop worked around the clock to complete the ductwork fabrication needed the next day
  • April 5: Ductwork arrived on site and was installed
  • April 6: Started and balanced the first two fans and turned over 15 rooms for the hospital to use that night
  • April 7: The last fan was started up, and the remaining 14 rooms were turned over in the afternoon

SSM Health DePaul Hospital

Murphy Company orchestrated work on three negative pressure rooms for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at DePaul Hospital.

Kelly Pearce, Incident Commander at DePaul Hospital, praised Murphy Company for its work, saying, “I want to pass on my personal gratitude as the incident commander for DePaul Hospital as well as from the perspective of my ICU nursing background for the work your teams did for us last night.”

“From the time we said ‘go’ around 16:45 yesterday afternoon, Jim Wesling and others from Murphy and Kaiser were able to convert 16 ICU rooms on 3N from normal airflow to airborne infection isolation (AII) negative pressure standards by 04:30 this morning,” she added. “Their actions have made it safer for our staff and providers to care for patients infected with COVID-19 and to provide more peace of mind to the staff working through this very turbulent situation.”

Handwashing Stations

Murphy Company needed a way for its employees to wash their hands when the public areas of jobsites were closed due to COVID-19.

Vice President Scott McIntosh came up with the idea of creating portable sinks to bring on sites. The fabrication shop was challenged with the idea, and a prototype was created in 2 days.

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The project started in Murphy Company’s Denver office, and was immediately supported by management in the St. Louis office.

The first prototype was a rectangular sink created using a stainless steel countertop and a Knaack cart. A hot water heater was installed in the cart’s cabinet. Water was supplied via a garden hose, and the stainless steel holding tank, with a capacity of +/- 20 gallons of wastewater, was drained via a garden hose. This option proved to be expensive due to the cost of the materials involved.

A second, less expensive option was developed next. The round sink, which is strapped to a dolly for portability, features a hands-free, sensor-powered water faucet and soap dispenser. This prototype has rear water-source hookups (hose into the valve) and a drain in the front to allow the water to deplete from the unit itself. The wastewater storage capacity is +/- 40 gallons.

The round sink was self-contained and required only 120VAC to power a small pump and instant heater. Water fed from a 5-gallon water jug and was disposed of in a 5-gallon bucket. The original design was adapted to replace the self-contained water and waste system. This meant removing the pump and adding a 2.5 gallon electric water heater in its place. This option allows jobsites to have a moderate amount of warm water for proper hand washing without the concern of running out of water or filling a waste container.

The Denver fabrication shop shared the drawings with the St. Louis shop, which used the materials available to them to create their iterations of the rectangular and round sinks.

Senior Vice President Robert Mathisen said, “We are now looking at a much less expensive prototype that does not include a hot water heater and is also for smaller construction sites.  We are also looking at alternative components to reduce cost. One consideration was to incorporate a ‘hands-free’ faucet and a ‘hands-free’ soap dispenser to avoid touching of surfaces where contamination could reside.”

The projects were done by Murphy Company’s union tradesmen and women from Colorado Locals 3, 9, and 208, and Missouri Locals 36 and 562. 

Murphy Company plans to deploy the sinks to jobsites that need them in Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri, and Illinois.

MCAA thanks Murphy Company for their efforts in helping to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for their contributions to the safety and health of both their employees and the general public.

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