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Griffin Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Unit Receives Award

By Lisa Seaberg on 8/10/2004

DERBY, CT (August 10, 2004) - The Griffin Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Unit recently received the 2004 Honorable Mention Award from the Connecticut Real Estate Exchange, a statewide organization that recognizes Connecticut projects that have had a "positive impact on the State and their communities, overcoming significant economic, geographic, bureaucratic or environmental obstacles."

The presentation was made to the S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury and Albis Turlington Architects of New Haven. The S/L/A/M Collaborative was responsible for the interior design of the renovation; Albis Turlington was architect of record for the project. Opened last June, the new inpatient psychiatric unit completes the integration of the Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care throughout Griffin Hospital.

"We were presented with many daunting structural challenges, such as limited area, low ceilings, columns and walls," said Richard G. Turlington Jr. of Albis in an interview in the June issue of Health Facilities Management magazine, a publication of the American Hospital Association. "The existing 7,300 square feet of space was at the lowest level of the hospital, mostly below grade and heeled into the side of a hill with only partial access to natural light. This largely subterranean environment needed to be addressed to accommodate the Planetree model. So the unit was reconfigured to allow daylight to penetrate as many patient spaces as possible," Turlington said.

The new facility at Griffin Hospital is a 14 bed acute care psychiatric unit. The environment eliminates barriers between patients and staff where possible, incorporating the use of familiar furnishings and finishes to reduce anxiety, an emphasis on nature, natural light and the arts to lift the spirit, comfortable public spaces to encourage social interaction and the involvement of family and the use of design and technology to protect patient privacy and enhance patient and staff safety. The new unit offers private and semi-private rooms, a residential style kitchen and dining room, an inviting entertainment lounge, and a large salt water aquarium. Traditional therapeutic approaches that include individual and group therapy are enhanced with complementary services such as patient education, aroma therapy, arts and entertainment and journaling.

"We are pleased by the recognition of these two firms," said Griffin Hospital President and CEO Patrick Charmel. "The structural challenges were numerous, but the bright, spacious, nurturing environment attests to our success in overcoming these obstacles. Working together, the two design firms transformed what was an antiquated, cramped and drab patient care facility into a standard-setting healing patient care environment that incorporates many of the design elements pioneered in our North Wing,"Charmel said.

Griffin Hospital adopted the Planetree model of care in 1992 and it became the foundation for Griffin Hospital's award-winning patient-care building opened in 1994 which extended Planetree, patient-centered care to Griffin Hospital's medical / surgical and Childbirth Center patients. The psychiatric unit was the only major inpatient service that had not yet fully incorporated the Planetree model.