Consulting Engineering

Prairie St. John's Behavioral Hospital

Prairie St. Johns HospitalFargo, North Dakota

Located in Fargo, ND, Prairie St. John’s was founded in 1997 to provide behavioral health services for children, adolescents, and adults. The owners, Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), hired CMTA to design the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, technology, and security components for the new, $37M Prairie St. John’s psychiatric hospital.

The behavioral healthcare facility is located near the existing Prairie St. John’s and has 144 beds–an increase from the former hospital’s 110–with space for residential and partial hospitalization care. Height restrictions limited the new building to four stories, so any future expansion will likely come from adding a pod to the north. When the new facility was completed, the old hospital building was demolished and became green space and a parking lot.

CMTA’s engineering team members designed and built a healthcare facility that:

  • Maximizes treatment and patient care space
  • Increases interdisciplinary team collaboration (including psychiatrists, internal medicine physicians, clinical pharmacists, social workers, psychologists, and therapists)
  • Improves the natural light and behavioral healthcare-specific design
  • Enhances clinical treatment models
  • Equips the facility with specialized programming and physician-led, medication-assisted treatment, as well as outpatient care

Designs for the new, 104,000 SF facility included a smaller building footprint when compared to the former hospital’s 150,000 SF, as well as space and system improvements for patients and staff, which are more efficient to operate. The new hospital is expected to reduce utility costs by an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 annually. Official project kickoff took place in the fall of 2019, beginning with the demolition of the nearby vacant Rivers Edge chapel and living quarters facility. Construction was originally planned for spring of 2020, but due to COVID-19 pandemic implications, construction began in June of 2021.

CMTA designed an HVAC system that includes VAV with chilled water air AHUs, each utilizing chilled water cooling. Two self-contained electric humidification systems for each air handling unit were installed in the mechanical room, as well as the boilers and pumps.

Varying levels of security are required for mechanical and electrical system components, depending on the accessibility of each area to patients, as well as whether each area is constantly supervised by staff. Areas designated Level 3 and higher have extensive provisions for tamper, ligature, and vandal resistance.

CMTA’s design incorporates exceptional electrical resiliency for the facility. This is accomplished by a new 750kW indoor diesel generator and four ATS switches. Three of the ATS switches provide back-up power for the life safety, critical and equipment branches, which are required for healthcare facilities, as well as an additional service entrance ATS used to provide standby backup power to the entire facility’s electrical system. Automatic load shedding controls are implemented for improved protection of the generator and essential electrical system against overload conditions. The generator fuel system provides for 96 hours of runtime. The design allows the facility to operate in the event of a power outage without any sacrifice to efficiency or changes to day-to-day practices.