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How to stretch $50 grand

By: Julia Brown, Associate Editor | This article was originally published in Behavioral Healthcare.


Behavioral Healthcare recently presented top experts with a design challenge, asking for advice on what facility upgrades they might prioritize if they had a budget of only $50,000. While it’s easy to make improvements with $1 million in hand, not all centers have that luxury.


“It’s tough to make much of an impact with $1 to $2 per square foot,” says Kevin Turner, AIA, LEED, principal, Perkins+Will.


Although that might be the case, low-cost changes can have noticeable impact. In fact, you might be surprised to see what can be done on a tight budget.


Safety upgrades

Every year, new antiligature products are developed and brought to market, says Turner, and each one that you don’t have in your facility can represent a liability. Some examples would be installing safer door handles, swapping out hinges, updating shower curtains, and adding over-the-door alarms.

“If I had a small pot of money and wanted to reduce my liability, I would look for the best bang for my buck in safety improvements as a risk management strategy,” he says.


When minimizing risk, James M. Hunt, AIA, president of Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, LLC, recommends prioritizing spaces where self-harm acts traditionally take place: patient bathrooms and bedrooms. He says those are the locations where patients spend time without supervision.


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