Success at HarborChase of the Park Cities

  • Mar 23, 2018

By Elliott Bevers, Shelby Little and Paula Davis

HarborChase of the Park Cities is a high-end, eight-story assisted living complex in Dallas. It features 134 residential units, luxurious dining rooms, activity center, conference rooms and a wellness spa.

After receiving Substantial Completion in January, we requested the mandatory Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, or TDADS, inspection. The inspection was scheduled the week of March 5th.

TDADS is a state agency that provides licensing for assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. It determines if a facility meets its licensing rules for life safety, including physical construction and facility operation requirements by conducting inspections, investigations and on-site visits. Most importantly, TDADS has an 80 percent failure rate for first time inspections.

Preparation is key

Months before the inspection, we met with a TDADS consultant to mitigate areas of risk. Our Beck team, our client, design team and major subcontractors aligned on a strategy and prepared a plan. We ensured life safety systems were within required standards, including fire and smoke walls, electrical and fire alarm, mechanical, access control, and other items such as proper documentation.

To prepare, we assigned everyone to teams: SWAT, Alpha or Bravo, or Command Center. The purpose of the SWAT Team, which consisted of the TDAD’s inspector(s), a design representative, a Beck project manager, a Beck superintendent, and a Beck laborer, was to work with the inspectors, repair a deficiency on the spot, or request work orders to be issued by the Command Center.

The purpose of Command Center, which consisted of two Beck representatives and members from 15 major subcontractors, was to issue work orders to and manage subcontractors, and to communicate with the owner.

A challenging, yet successful inspection

The first day of inspection, five TDADS inspectors came prepared to find deficiencies, including deviations from code requirements, actual or interpreted, during the walk through. We were prepared to meet these challenges.

When a correction was noted, a SWAT team member texted the item to Command Center. Work orders were written up and given to the subcontractor, project manager or superintendent to immediately dispatch workers to fix it.

The process was effective and helped complete over 250 work orders during the inspection. One example included adding 42 smoke detectors to lobby ceilings. In one day we, programmed and tested the detectors, patched tape, bedded and painted the repair holes in the sheetrock ceiling. The inspectors also required we use higher, 20 foot candle levels in the exit stairwells, instead of the standard 10 foot candles. We successfully completed this task overnight.

After the strenuous six-day inspection process, TDADS approved HarborChase of the Park Cities for life safety.

Now that we’ve passed inspection, three residents will move into the facility for 45 days, to ensure its properly staffed and prepared to care for residents. TDADS will return to inspect the operations of HarborChase.  Once the operations inspection passes, the facility is fully licensed for 179 beds, 38 of which are for Alzheimer’s patients, and it can receive permanent residents.

Lessons learned

The inspection was a learning process. We strongly suggest hiring a TDADS consultant before construction. A consultant catches items before they turn into significant issues. It’s also key that design team members and consultants have current TDADS requirements, as these change frequently.

We recommend verifying all life safety items are in place – walk the building several times with access doors open to inspect fire walls for missing tape and fire sealant – because once a deficiency is identified, an inspector will diligently look for and target the item during the rest of the inspection.

TDADS inspectors are known for being stringent. We were respectful and professional despite challenging moments, like being asked to add a fire corridor through the middle of the first floor lobby.

In the end, we were successful because we had a strategy and all team members bought into the process. This allowed us to work efficiently and with a sense of urgency needed to achieve our goal: pass the inspection on the first try.