LEONARD LACOMB IS A MORNING PERSON.
That’s why it’s no surprise to find him in his League City Campus office at 6 a.m. on this Tuesday, answering emails, working through the project management software he’s often immersed in and preparing for the day ahead.
LaComb, a principal facilities project manager for UTMB Design and Construction, oversees the exterior construction of the new South Tower that will add five stories and boost the patient bed count to nearly 100 as the campus rapidly expands to meet growing patient demand.
“MY PART OF THE PUZZLE IS BEHIND THE SCENES,” says LaComb as he leads a group tour of the bustling construction site, passing hard-at-work crews, loads of heavy equipment and a massive rooftop crane. “I’m the paperwork guy who makes sure we’re sticking to the budget and staying on schedule to get this project completed on time.”
On time is next year. Substantial completion of the South Tower project is set for February 2020, with first patient treated in the new facility planned for May 2020.
Along with the already-opened parking garage and skybridge, this phase of construction on the campus includes more operating and endoscopy rooms, a larger Post Care Anesthesia Unit (PACU), an expanded emergency department and the new patient tower, which will have the support structure in place to grow to 12 stories in the future.
“The new tower includes a dining area, an expanded pharmacy and lab, along with staff facilities and more,” LaComb says. “The final touch is a grand concourse that will begin at the new skybridge and run more than 300 feet to the new tower and elevator lobby. This concourse has been designed to spotlight the League City area and surrounding communities and the great history of UTMB, highlighting our goals, values and attention to caring for our patients.”
LaComb is one of three project managers in charge of construction on the League City Campus. Donna Rock is the project manager for the interior construction, including expansion of the endoscopy and operating room suites and the emergency department. Chris Escamilla oversees the work on the parking garage, Medical Plaza One attached to the garage and the
elevated pedestrian skybridge that links those facilities to the campus hospital. LaComb adds that the glue that holds the three in check is Michelle Mancil, project coordinator and organizer of all the budgets.
The trio’s work is evident across the campus, as it buzzes continuously with heavy equipment and the excited energy that surrounds an expanding location.
LaComb is no stranger to organizations in the midst of growth. Most of his recent career experiences have been with institutions that were rapidly expanding.
Before joining UTMB two and half years ago, he was a project manager at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for 13 years. Prior to that, LaComb worked at American General (now AIG), BMC Software and Anadarko Petroleum, all helping those companies expand operations. A Houston native, LaComb earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his master’s in business administration from Texas Woman’s University.
For LaComb, it’s teamwork that makes UTMB a success. He’s quick to credit on-site construction managers Steve Rock, Brian Preston, Chelsea Remick and Calvin Scott with holding fast to strict building codes and UT System guidelines, along with fostering a culture of safety in every job. He says Tarek Thomas, program director for capital projects for UTMB Design and Construction and LaComb’s direct supervisor, is an excellent mentor who has assembled a team of professionals with complementary skills who work well together.
“The team always has the UTMB mission in the forefront of our decisions and planning,” he says. “We want to guarantee that our facilities are constructed to meet the needs of the faculty and staff, and provide a beautiful facility for patients and their families where they feel safe and are receiving great care.”
In addition, LaComb speaks glowingly about Jaclyn Whelan, manager of the League City Campus Hospital operations. “Without Jaclyn, we would be nowhere,” he says. “She’s a real genius and a giant part of our team’s success.”
Following his morning routine of responding to emails and reviewing project-related documents on his computer, LaComb spends much of the rest of his day meeting with his team and the contractors across the construction zone.
ON THIS DAY, HE BOUNDS THROUGH CAMPUS WITH a smile on his face, glowing with positivity and enthusiasm for the work at hand as he interacts with his colleagues. He says his parents instilled the qualities in him that have made him a successful project manager, most notably a desire to work hard, effectively complete a task and always look for improvement in the process.
“My favorite saying is ‘Be kind and courageous,’” LaComb says. “Happiness grows on people. It’s really easy to smile and bring some joy to a patient, faculty member and my teammates.”
That attitude is evident as LaComb meets with his teammates and contractors to hear updates on various jobs taking place across the campus.
“I love knowing that what I do makes a difference,” LaComb says. “You won’t see my name anywhere on a project, but I know that every patient who uses the procedure rooms has the best mechanical system and equipment so that our health care professionals can provide a successful outcome to the patient and their loved ones. That’s a rewarding feeling.”