Demand for behavioral health services has grown across the county over the last few decades, and health systems have struggled to support that need. As a result, emergency departments (ED) have served as the place that patients turn to when they don’t know where else to seek care. Approximately one in every eight ED visits in the US is associated with a behavioral health need (American Psychiatric Association). It is for this reason that Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, chose to dedicate a separate space within their ED to provide a safe, quiet, and calming environment for patients experiencing an acute behavioral health episode. By renovating a portion of the existing ED, Forbes Hospital is equipped to provide better care for patients with behavioral health needs.
IKM designed the 2,000 square foot suite with physical and emotional wellbeing in mind to prioritize the patient experience. Calming blue and green tones are integrated throughout, most prominently in the common milieu space which showcases wall graphics depicting a detailed nature scene. As patients may find themselves waiting in the milieu space for an inpatient bed to become available, these images of nature function to direct their thoughts away from ones of anxiety and distress. Overhead light fixtures are minimized in favor of the soft glow of perimeter lighting to allow patients to recline comfortably and avoid agitation due to excessive glare. All lighting within the space is adjustable for color temperature to mimic the outside world and engage patients’ natural circadian rhythms.
The staff workroom is open to the patient area to break down the barriers between patient and caregiver. Frameless panes of laminated safety glass stretch from counter to ceiling for unobstructed views of all patients within the suite, while also allowing clear and easy communication by way of gaps between the panes. Every element of the suite is designed to eliminate points of ligature or opportunities for patients to self-harm. By prioritizing vulnerable patients, Forbes Hospital ED can meet the community’s needs with a dedicated environment for behavioral health.