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Bid protest dismissal sets path for March opening of new medical center complex at Fort Bliss

The new William Beaumont Army Medical Center complex in East El Paso took more than six years to complete.

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By VIC KOLENC | El Paso Times | Published: October 30, 2020

EL PASO, Texas (Tribune News Service) — A contract bid protest that pushed the long-delayed opening of the new, $1.4 billion William Beaumont Army Medical Center complex at Fort Bliss to March has been dismissed by a federal agency.

That's resulted in California-based Omnicell Inc.'s $5.35 million contract to provide a medication and supply management system for the hospital to go forward.

The original opening date for the mammoth Army medical complex in East El Paso was to be April 2017. But years of construction delays and cost overruns pushed the opening to last September. The bid protest then pushed the opening to March 28.

The hospital complex's $1.4 billion construction cost is more than $629 million over the original contract awards.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Oct. 22 dismissed a contract bid protest filed July 17 by CareFusion Solutions, which on July 2 had been awarded the Beaumont contract with a $4.89 million bid. That was almost $460,000 less than the bid submitted by Omnicell.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a few days later rejected CareFusion's winning bid after agency officials learned the company no longer had a federal government contract to supply federal agencies with medical equipment and supplies. The bid request issued in April required that quoted items in the bid be on an existing government supply contract, according to the GAO decision to dismiss the protest.

Carefusion argued the requirement for a federal supply schedule contract, or FSS, was negated by the manner in which the Army later sought emailed bids from the two companies.

The GAO rejected that argument because the company "offered no support, either factual or legal, for its interpretation" of the bid process, according to the GAO dismissal document.

Carefusion is now part of Becton, Dickinson and Co., or BD, a global medical technology company based in New Jersey. BD did not respond to an El Paso Times' request for comment on dismissal of its protest.

Omnicell, a California company that sells drug-delivery systems and related products and services, will now install the medication and supply management system. That system is to include an estimated 262 automated cabinets to dispense medical supplies and medications integrated with a software management system, according to information from the GAO and Army officials.

This system provides "safe management of medications and supplies dispensed for patients and efficient, real time supply chain management," Julia Chlarson, chief of the Army Corps of Engineers' Medical Outfitting and Transition Branch in HuntsvilleAlabama, said in a statement.

Beaumont officials have said the new hospital can't open without the medication and supply system installed.

The system is expected to be installed by Feb. 18, after which Beaumont staff can begin final training exercises, Chlarson said.

Betsy Martinelli, an Omnicell spokesperson, said in an email that company officials are pleased the bid protest was dismissed, and, she said, the company will start project planning with Beaumont officials in the next few weeks.

"Timing for project completion will be based on that mutually-agreed upon project plan and schedule," Martinelli said.

vkolenc@elpasotimes.com

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The new William Beaumont Army Medical Center in far east El Paso is complete and ready to turn over to hospital officials.
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