EXP engineers and hospital staff come together in time of crisis in Sherbrooke

Hidden behind many engineering achievements are heartwarming stories of solidarity and humanity. A passion for engineering, a desire to help and an urge to make a difference for people can lead to great things. Case in point: recently, a team of engineers from EXP’s Building and Industry team in Sherbrooke went above and beyond in rising to the challenge brought to them by the Sherbrooke University Hospital (CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS), one of the most complete hospitals in Quebec.

In late March, the COVID-19 crisis was stressing Quebec’s healthcare system and our experts got a call. We learned that the Sherbrooke University Hospital’s Fleurimont site laboratory had been designated a COVID‑19 testing laboratory by the Quebec ministry of Health and Social Services. In order to increase its COVID‑19 testing capacity and protect the public by limiting the virus’s spread, CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS acquired a new machine, the COBAS 6800, for its microbiology laboratory. This is the second piece of high‑throughput equipment approved and installed in Quebec. It will allow for faster processing not only of COVID‑19 tests, but also of tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

EXP’s experts had only two weeks to design and prepare the laboratory to house this Cadillac of lab equipment: electricity, ventilation systems, ducts for medical gases, a decontamination room (airlock) and hand washing stations with hands‑free controls, and more. Everything needed to be designed so that the lab staff could do their work easily, in a user‑friendly, safe and secure environment. At first glance, the project seemed like a tough nut to crack, especially on such a tight deadline. But today we can shout from the rooftops, “Mission accomplished!”

Julie Pellerin, Director, Mechanical and Electrical at our Sherbrooke office, glowed with admiration for her team as she explained how the project was carried out. “We are so proud to have helped make this project happen. Our team members found it highly motivating. All our employees, contractors and partners moved heaven and earth to help keep our community healthy. Everyone really came together in a spirit of teamwork and solidarity, with a single shared goal: to get the lab up and running in time for the COBAS 6800 to be installed. A team was dedicated exclusively to the project. We had already been working with CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS for many years, so we already had detailed knowledge of their building layouts and systems, which was vital for drawing up plans quickly. We are proud that EXP could play this part in the collective fight against COVID‑19. But even aside from that, our client’s appreciation gives us a real feeling of a job well done.”

Recently, Sébastien Guay, Division Head, Expert services and Construction projects at CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, sent a letter of thanks to each partner on the project. In it, he expressed his deep satisfaction with their speedy work. “We very much appreciate your support and the speed with which you rose to this challenge. It made a real difference in enabling us to set up everything that was required. […] This experience has made it clear that our relationship goes beyond a simple business connection and has underscored your commitment to our company.”

A round of applause for the team who believed from the beginning that the project was doable, and who contributed to its success: Benoit Champoux, Éric Lavoie, Simon Rondeau, Marc‑André Houle and Sylvain D’amours.

*Photo: CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS