Design for Health and Human Services Showcase

Behavioral Healthcare, May-June 2011 | Go to article overview

Design for Health and Human Services Showcase


For the third year, Behavioral Healthcare invited design firms and provider organizations to submit innovative building projects for review in our annual Design for Health and Human Services Showcase. Four highly regarded experts comprised our jury for 2011:

Howard Gershon, FACHE, is a founding principal with New Heights Group in Santa Fe, N.M. He offers over 35 years of experience as a healthcare consultant, specializing in strategic planning, market research, program development and facility development for behavioral health providers throughout the United States.

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Michael Meehan, AIA, LEED AP. is an architect with BWBR Architects in St. Paul, Minn., where he serves as the professional development manager. His project experience includes a variety of corporate, higher education, and medical projects, including behavioral healthcare buildings. In 2007, Meehan served as chair of the national AIA Young Architects Forum. He received an AIA Young Architects Award in 2008.

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David M. Sine, CSP, ARM, CPHRM, is president and founder of SafetyLogic Systems. He has been the state safety director for two Eastern states, senior staff engineer for the Joint Commission, and a senior consultant for the American Hospital Association. He acts as a risk management advisor to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and is a co-author of the Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities: Edition 3.0.

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Gail Sterling, FIIDA, AAHID, is a principal and studio interior designer with WHR Architects in Houston, where she specializes in healthcare projects that utilize evidence-based design. Sterling has experience in providing interior design services consisting of interior master plan development; interior finishes, furniture selection, and specification; architectural and interior design; and preparation of construction documents. She joined WHR in 1989 and currently serves as its Director of Interiors.

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This year, our panel of jurors took a variety of factors into account before making their decisions, most notably the extent to which each project was able to "incorporate natural light, views to the outside, and other attributes becoming more prevalent in different areas of medicine--such as limited, long corridors, indirect light, and vibrant color schemes."

Jurors also paid special attention to the integration of patient safety in the designs. One juror noted that security has become an "increasingly important issue" for inpatient facilities in particular, since their patient populations are more seriously ill, potentially more violent, and at greater risk for self harm. For these facilities, safety now means that "everything from door handles and hinges to plumbing fixtures" need to be important aspects of a facility's design.

Other factors the jury considered, and of particular importance for inpatient facilities, were design elements that "provide patients with 'a sense of movement and progress" that can help them build a "valuable sense of routine."

With all of these considerations in mind, jurors chose to award a Citation of Merit to Pima County Behavioral Health Pavilion and Crisis Response Center, as well as Honorable Mentions to four other projects;

Citation of Merit: Pima County Hospital, Behavioral Health Pavilion and Crisis Response Center

This Citation goes to a project one juror called "a one-stop shop for behavioral healthcare," incorporating elements of acute treatment, crisis response, and inpatient care. Jurors said the design nicely integrated interior and exterior presentation and had a "good separation of vehicular and internal traffic flow."

The project also introduces an on-site courtroom, which one juror considered "an enormously good idea," because when patients are transported to and from judicial proceedings, it not only upsets the patient, but it "places both the patient and staff at risk. …

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