If Baptist Behavioral Health Care’s new facility doesn’t fit the image of a stereotypical mental health hospital, there’s a good reason: It was designed to be the antithesis, with every detail chosen with an eye toward aesthetics and efficiency.
Today, guests were welcomed for an open house at the spacious 26,100-square-foot building, which is on the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle campus. The $10 million building will replace the hospital’s Willowbrook facility, based in the old Columbus hospital at Willowbrook Drive.
“There’s a mindset that a psychiatric hospital is dull and boring, intimidating with bars,” said David Johnson, director of behavioral health. “That’s not the case here. It’s aesthetically pleasing, with a sense of calmness and serenity. It’s a great environment for individuals to work on achieving the mental health and sobriety they deserve.”
Services will remain the same, including inpatient and court-ordered mental health care, outpatient counseling, marital therapy and more intensive therapy. An increased emphasis will be placed on child and adolescent counseling, with a special playroom for children. There will also be an increased focus on treating the elderly.
“It’s just a beautiful facility, and the design of the building makes the workflow so much more efficient,” Johnson said.
The building has been in the planning for nearly two years and was designed by Nashville architecture firm Earl Swensson and Associates.
Walls of windows provide natural light, while cushioned seating areas invite conversation. Muted colors of sage, blue and rose provide the backdrop. A nurses’ station is surrounded by glass at the center of the facility, offering a birds-eye view down each of the three wings in a hub-and-spoke design. Digital building controls within the nurses’ station allow complete control over everything from temperature to entry, exit and lockdown.
Enclosed courtyard areas offer surround sound and picnic tables for socializing, and an exercise room holds a bicycle and treadmill. Each of the 30 private rooms has a window.
Officials have said the Willowbrook facility is likely to be torn down, though some parts may be retained for storage purposes. Patients will be moved from Willowbrook to the new building on Wednesday.
“I only hope we outgrow it,” Johnson said of the new facility. “That would be good.”
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
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