This project consisted of the renovation of approximately 11,000 square feet of an existing acute care patient unit and conversion to an inpatient geriatric behavioral health unit. While relatively small in size, this project represents some of the unique challenges that are often faced in behavioral health. These challenges were overcome with great success at North Hills Hospital.
One common challenge in these types of renovations is the need to have patients in licensed beds prior to a specific date, in order to obtain higher federal reimbursement rates for a given fiscal year. This requires an owner to make rapid decisions and for the design and construction team to respond in kind. Because of thorough planning, the project was occupied five months after design was initiated. The design and construction teams worked together hand-in-hand throughout the entire process. Early in the design process, the design team identified and specified long lead items, so they could be ordered in time for installation. The experienced design team knew that some behavioral health products can have lead times that exceed the length of the entire design and construction timeframe allotted to complete this project. Plans were designed and products were selected accordingly.
Technology is another common challenge in behavioral health environments. Well-designed systems can advance security and increase patient and staff safety. Poorly designed systems, without appropriate installation provisions, can pose additional safety risks. This project included complete technology design incorporating access controls, surveillance, panic alarms, intercom, RF tracking, door top ligature alarm, patient room motion detection, nurse call and structured cabling systems. All of these systems include ligature and vandal-resistance provisions for patient-area devices. Several of these systems are specialized and implemented specifically for increased patient safety in behavioral health environments.
Another common challenge in behavioral health is presented by health care regulations that have not caught up to current behavioral health standards. In this case, the current standards required provision of electrical system headwall components that are typically excluded from behavioral health applications. The design team worked with the hospital to develop a custom solution to make safe the existing headwall systems, in compliance with current regulations, and without jeopardizing construction schedule.