– Originally posted in Healthcare Design Magazine.
In 2015, Mind Springs Health’s West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., began planning a 62,000-square-foot expansion. A visioning session early in the design process adopted the slogan “Creating a Place of Sanctuary” that would become the guiding principal for the design process of the 48-bed addition (with future planned expansion to 64 beds), which replaces an existing 32-bed inpatient facility in Grand Junction. This building opened in December 2018 and greatly expands access to psychiatric beds in the community and surrounding area as the only psychiatric hospital in the 520-mile- wide distance between Denver and Salt Lake City.
The project team, including Davis Partnership Architects (Denver) and Behavioral Health Facility Consulting LLC (Topeka, Kan.), set out to create a place that is comforting and non-threatening to allow those seeking treatment to relax and be open to treatment. This environment contrasts with those in jails and prisons, where some homeless mentally ill people end up these days.
Initial planning meetings were held between West Springs Hospital staff members, Davis Partnership Architects, Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, and many groups including a peer group consisting of former patients of the existing facility. The participants contributed input about what it’s actually like to live on a unit and the essential elements they wanted to see in the new design to allow patients to retain as much self-worth and autonomy as possible. These elements can be easily overlooked, disregarded, or written off as not safe enough for mental health environments during the design process, but the project team committed to making them a priority for the new West Springs Hospital project.