“The environment is meant to alleviate a lot of fears that people have coming into a mental health unit,” Ashford said.
For example, the patient lounge in the mental health unit not only is adjacent to the nurses’ station to aid communication but is large and colorful to encourage patients to socialize with each other.
“This helps with the recovery process,” Ashford said. “Isolation won’t help.” Patients also learn coping skills and about resources from their peers.
The unit also includes a group therapy room and a classroom.
Throughout the mental health unit, steps were taken to reduce the risk of self-harm, including lightweight bathroom doors that provide privacy but are closed with magnetic strips and lightweight artwork that is easily removed from walls.
In the addictions recovery unit, patients are allowed to control the temperature in their room because, during detox, peoples’ body temperature changes frequently, Ashford said.
“It allows patients some control,” Jennings said. “Control is a big part of recovery.”
The same staff will be providing care in the relocated units. Forty people work in behavioral health, with 1,450 employees at the hospital overall. Future staffing will be based on patient numbers.