Anyone who has seen the new children’s hospital emerge from a giant hole along Hawkins Drive to become the tallest building in Iowa City may be interested to know that Jason Miller has been involved in that building’s creation from the “ground floor.”
Miller, director of project management with UI Hospitals and Clinics Capital Management, worked with the site’s original project manager from the time the cavernous hole for the lowest floors was carved out in 2012. He later assumed command of the project and has been instrumental in leading the several construction firms and workers who have worked in close harmony throughout the project.
It takes a team of dedicated people and a focused leader to construct such a massive project, especially one that is surrounded by a very large hospital and a college football stadium. Let’s learn more about that leader.
Jason Miller was born in Independence, Iowa, and reared in Osceola, in southern Iowa.
From 1993 to 2004, Miller served in the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Forces. Over five of his years of service, Miller and his units were deployed on missions throughout the world.
“I was sent everywhere but the Far East,” says Miller.
During his time with Special Ops, Miller deployed with between one to 14 men at any one time, and he served exclusively in volunteer units.
“Volunteer units are higher risk, but the advantage you have is that everyone else you’re working with also volunteered, and for the same reasons. Being able to completely trust your team is of ultimate importance. You can trust everyone to have your back because you have theirs, too,” Miller says.
Following his time in the service, Miller earned a degree in economics at the University of Iowa. To help pay for his education, he worked on farms during winters and worked construction during the summers, which greatly impacted his career choice. After graduation, Miller was a construction superintendent in a large, planned urban development in Florida. It was then that he knew he wanted to return to Iowa City and work in construction management at the UI.
Miller returned to Iowa City in 2011 after earning his master’s degree in construction management from Purdue University, and he began working as a project manager for UI Hospitals and Clinics Capital Management.
Just as he is proud to have served the military, Miller says it’s his charge “to do the very best that I can for the University of Iowa.”
In speaking about the construction of the new children’s hospital, Miller offered the following:
“The leadership of UI Children’s Hospital has empowered patients, families, and staff with the ability to establish the core values of the building, driving all decisions from design through construction. I am fortunate to have the ability to interact with absolute professionals in their fields, including the clinical staff who have been steadfast in their intent to deliver world-class health care for their patients. The outcome is a built environment with the patients and their families at the center.”
What are some of the things about which Miller is most proud?
“We installed utilities in a two-story tunnel at UI Hospitals and Clinics over an 18-month period. The project included 30 major utility shutdowns, which were accomplished with no impact to the facility!” he says.
Miller notes that there is great pride in the fact that in over one million hours of construction on the new children’s hospital, not one worker has had any bone breaks or serious injuries.
He adds that the Experience Modification Rate (EMR) for the new children’s hospital and Parking Ramp 2 projects is 0.19, which Miller says “is about five times safer than the average construction project.”
The EMR is a number insurance companies use to determine both the past costs related to on-the-job injuries and the estimate of future chances of risk. The lower a business’s EMR, the lower their rate for worker compensation insurance premiums will be, and that’s good for everybody.
Miller says the extremely low EMR and the incredibly high number of construction hours without serious injuries are the result of great planning, execution, and teamwork. Those statistics are the result of a bond of trust, professionalism, and high level of skill held by the craft and their leadership.
He knows that everyone’s efforts on the new children’s hospital building are for a very noble cause.
Check out the building facts about the new children’s hospital building.
“It’s important to give our nurses and clinicians the best possible space enabling them to provide the highest level of care for our patients,” Miller says.
As focused as Miller is about piloting a construction job as massive as the new children’s hospital building, he is as focused and committed in his roles as husband and dad. Miller and his wife, a high school math teacher, have two children: Angus, 3, and Olive, 6, both of whom are involved in gymnastics. He loves being involved in their activities and watching them grow and develop. Miller’s parenting philosophy is simple. “I take the time to do what the children want to do, and totally focus on each child.”