The new £350m Grange University Hospital at Llanfrechfa in Cwmbran is not due to open until 2021 but wards with capacity for 384 patients have been fast-tracked and opened early because of the pandemic.
The Welsh regional government, allocated an extra £10m to the project in March to speed up construction of certain sections.
All fired up, Laing O'Rourke and Gleeds worked around the clock to get the extra capacity at the new hospital ready in just four weeks.
But as it happens, the local health authority – the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – has not yet seen the surge in cases it expected so the beds are not yet needed.
"At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak we needed to plan for the worst case scenario," explained chief executive Judith Paget. "Thankfully the general public have observed the advice on staying at home and social distancing, so we don't need to open the extra beds just yet.”
Laing O'Rourke project director Mike Lewis said: "Aneurin Bevan University Hospital Board had the foresight to ask us to bring our construction programme forward, creating 384 bed spaces as part of their preparations to tackle coronavirus in Wales.
"I am humbled by the tremendous effort shown by all in our project team and I thank them for their commitment. Our motivation to deliver key parts of The Grange University Hospital for use a year ahead of schedule has been driven by our determination to provide vital NHS facilities and to support all those working in the NHS, to whom we owe so much."
Gleeds project director Victoria Head said: "Since its inception The Grange University Hospital project has always had a true collaborative ethos at its heart – working together for a shared goal and we've stuck to that, proudly tackling every challenge to complete the hospital in record time by adopting a solution-based approach. With the best will in the world, fundamentally, had this been a traditional build with the same start date we would not have been in a position to offer support to this national pandemic and the NHS.”
She added: “We've always been proud of the modern methods of construction (MMC) involved at The Grange University Hospital and the programme savings which it offered compared to a traditional build but never have the benefits been more apparent than during this crisis."
BDP is the project architect. Lead architect Adrian Hitchcock said: “Our design concept means that the hospital was divided into three distinct zones, which could be progressed with a degree of autonomy from one another. Together with the extensive adoption of off-site fabrication and Laing O’Rourke’s exemplary construction management and delivery, this approach has helped to make early opening possible, if required.”