Q1. We are designing an new construction, free-standing psychiatric hospital. I have read a lot about Treatment Malls and Neighborhood/Community type facilities. Which is best?
A1. There is no “Best” layout that fits all hospitals. There are many variables that must be taken into account including average length of stay, age of patients, diagnosis, staffing patterns, among others. It is helpful to discuss both of these options, and others, with your client and thoroughly explore the strengths and weakness of each. The consultation of an experienced professional will help assure that all viable options are explored and positive and negative elements of each are clearly understood before the final decisions are made.
Q2. I am designing a new general hospital with a small psychiatric unit that will be converted to a medical/surgical unit later when the hospital is expanded and a new psychiatric department is provided. Can we forgo all of the specialty items usually associated with psychiatric units in this case?
A2. Absolutely not; housing psychiatric inpatients for any length of time in space that is not designed specifically to suit their needs can result in serious injuries to the patients and/or staff members. The liability for this can be extremely high and can be shared between the designers and the facility.