Earning his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Illinois State University, Dan Patarozzi has been involved in providing professional construction services for more than 20 years. A critical moment in his career occurred in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy hit New York. The emergency department expansion he was working on at the time flooded, and Patarozzi led the effort to bring the project back online within 12 months.

Most recently, Patarozzi applied that emergency response experience during the COVID-19 pandemic to help address patient surge. In March 2020, as New York City administration was requiring all hospitals to increase their capacities by a minimum of 50 percent, NYC Health + Hospitals and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reached out to Skanska to help convert three floors of North Central Bronx Hospital into a 120-bed ICU within 90 days. Patarozzi says he knew the project’s aggressive timeline meant he needed to get project partners aligned quickly to understand goals, expectations, and scheduling.

As the operations lead on the project, Patarozzi held daily update calls with all key stakeholders to deliver up-to-date information and discuss crucial quick-response items such as expediting inspections. Patarozzi worked closely with the project team to outline possible strategies, while relying on his industry knowledge and relationships to procure equipment on an expedited timeframe, including multiple air handling units in six weeks.

Additionally, he addressed worker safety and health by installing an exterior hoist on the building for all workers to access the project site and implemented daily health screenings with an on-site paramedic. Through his leadership, the project team delivered 20 ICU beds within the first 30 days and the remaining 100 beds in the following two months.

Patarozzi also took the opportunity to maximize FEMA funding to update the hospital, which hadn’t received major upgrades since it opened in 1974, including purchasing additional air handling units, upgrading the facility’s oxygen farm, and creating new administrative spaces. “It’s amazing when you take a group of people, many of whom had never worked together before, and in a matter of weeks develop a cohesive team,” he says. And its success was achieved thanks to Patarozzi’s place on it.

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy leading teams and mentoring younger professionals to help them grow and become leaders. I believe your team at work is also your family. If you have teamwork and a sense of family on a job site and care about the person sitting next to you, then I don’t know why you would want to work any other way.

Who inspires you?

My family at home and at work. It’s great to have a job that truly impacts other people’s lives in a positive way.

What’s the next major trend you anticipate for healthcare design?

As a contractor, we’re seeing the healthcare sector take more interest in collaborative delivery methods. Working under an integrated project delivery (IPD), “IPD lite,” or other similar contract focuses on creating an integrated environment, which leads to better teamwork between the designer, contractor, owner, and other key stakeholders.

What did you learn over the past year?  

The power of teamwork. The North Central Bronx Hospital ICU project is an example that anything is possible when a team is fully committed and focused on the end result.