New Orleans, Louisiana, USA was a dark place in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina paid an unwelcome visit. About 40,000 military families were affected when the hurricane damaged the Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility. The damage was so bad, the hospital had to be totally replaced.
The US$1 billion project, which wrapped up this year, was selected as the 2018 PMI® Project of the Year. The use of sound project management principles made this success possible. Scope changes were limited to those necessary to deliver better patient care. The team took advantage of lessons-learned databases from previous VA projects. Better upfront planning ensured realistic timeline goals and helped foster a culture of good communication and problem solving.
The project team went the extra mile to secure buy-in of stakeholders: veterans, families and the community. The latter group had grown weary of delays in rebuilding their city after Katrina; this project offered hope.
Extra care was taken to mitigate risks connected with any future hurricanes. For example, heating and cooling systems and mission-critical equipment were placed on higher floors and floodgates were incorporated in lower floors so elevators wouldn’t flood. Windows were designed to withstand winds of up to 130 miles (210 kilometers) per hour.
The project was delivered on time and came in about 14 percent under budget. The facility has an increased reach now, serving more than 70,000 military veterans and employing 2,263 staff, up from 1,600 before Katrina.