Inpatient Facilities Reflect Specialized Needs: Amenities Stress Home-Like Comfort for Those Who Stay for Several Days-Or More

By Brys, Shannon | Behavioral Healthcare Executive, March-April 2013 | Go to article overview

Inpatient Facilities Reflect Specialized Needs: Amenities Stress Home-Like Comfort for Those Who Stay for Several Days-Or More


Brys, Shannon, Behavioral Healthcare Executive


Although individuals and businesses in the United States have been tightening their belts in recent years due to economic uncertainty, the construction and renovation of new behavioral health facilities and units has continued forward and may now be accelerating further.

Jim Hunt, AIA, NCARB, president of Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, LLC (Topeka, Kansas), says that facility-related activity seemed to slow somewhat in mid-to late 2012, likely because anxious executives and boards held back on spending until they knew for certain the results and implications of the tumultuous 2012 election.

However, since the first of the year, he reports that requests for design related services have increased significantly. This comes as no surprise given the long-predicted surge of new behavioral health consumers that are expected to enter the market for services starting in 2014, due to health reforms that expand the availability of health insurance to nearly all Americans.

Among the many behavioral health facility projects or renovations completed recently in the United States are these:

Renovation: Amplatz Children's Hospital

On Nov. 1, 2012, the newly renovated Pediatric Behavioral Inpatient Unit in Fairview's University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital (Minneapolis, Minn.) opened to patients. The renovation, which involved two floors of the building, cost $8 million and required a year to complete.

The design of the new unit, which serves patients aged 4-18, is characterized by abundant daylight, gently curving walls, and soothing colors (Figures 1 and 2). Within each patient room, furnishings such as desks are adapted to a "child-size" scale. Patients who require longer stays will appreciate common areas where they can playvideo games, exercise, or practice yoga, and a renovated swimming pool.

Unique design features include:

* Rooms with colored lights around the ceiling that patients can change themselves, as well as in-room speakers and a choice of musical selections.

* A private "porch" outside each room, consisting of a permanent stool just outside the door where patients who need or want quiet time can sit and de-escalate while still feeling like part of ongoing activities.

* A new "welcoming area," used for patient check-ins, family visits, or family consultations.

This project, which involved acute pediatric inpatient units on the sixth and seventh floors, created two 20-bed units and a new 12-bed Intensive Treatment Center (similar to an ICU for behavioral patients) on the seventh floor. …

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