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Behavioral Health Unit at Mary Greeley Medical Center

Located in Ames, IA

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The Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames was in need of modern patient safety features and more beds, as the unit often operated at capacity and had to turn patients away. The entire fourth floor of the South Tower was completely gutted and built out into the new BHU, allowing the hospital to continue treating patients during construction.

Special considerations for patient safety were required when designing the unit, from materials to hardware to layout. Everything in the unit needed to be ligature- and tamper-resistant to prevent patient harm to themselves and others. Materials such as the mirrors, screws, signage, and plumbing fixtures were chosen according to the standards of the New York State Office of Mental Health, which tests products for safety features. The floor was divided into three separate units based on acuity: general, moderate and high. A centralized nurses’ station allows staff to move between the units through locked doors with line of sight to all three areas. A few patient rooms can be flexed between the high- and moderate-acuity units based on need using a series of locked doors. Three seclusion rooms – one in each area – have padded walls and floors to keep patients safe.

Patient comfort was also top of mind for the hospital. Soft, calm colors were used on the walls, complemented by bright white counters and soft woods in the flooring and cabinetry. Lots of natural light was incorporated, especially in patient rooms, and patients can also choose the light levels in their rooms to provide more autonomy. Benches in the hallways act like front porches outside of rooms, and each unit has artwork on the walls. Patients also can access quiet activity rooms for private use or group rooms for socialization and various therapies.

Whereas the previous BHU had 18 beds, many of which were in double rooms, the new unit has 24 beds mostly in single rooms. The fifth floor was also gutted and a full floor of new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems installed to extend the life of the South Tower and support the patient rooms. The new BHU will be able to serve more patients in a safe, comfortable environment for many years to come.

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