We “topped out” our new Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC) on April 13, marking the placement of the facility’s last steel beam and the beginning of construction for the exterior framing of the main building. Scheduled to open fall 2017 on the Brook Road Campus, this new pediatric mental health facility is already being recognized for its innovative patient-focused design. The VTCC was the only project honored with an Award of Merit in Behavioral Healthcare’s 2016 Design Showcase competition. The Award of Merit is their most prestigious award for projects representing outstanding innovative design solutions in new or renovated health and human services facilities.
“The Behavioral Healthcare Design Award is a reflection of the multidisciplinary collaboration between physicians, nurses, patient advocates, designers, behavioral health experts, architects, and engineers,” said Scott Thomas, senior vice president of CannonDesign. “Incorporating innovative ideas and best practices further elevates the project to enable VTCC to provide care in a safe and healing environment.”
CannonDesign is the architect on the project, with program management from JLL and construction by Balfour Beatty Construction.
Meeting a growing need
This new facility helps CHoR meet a growing need for both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services for children and adolescents across the state of Virginia and supports ongoing clinical research and training of behavioral health professionals. Its healing and therapeutic environment will replace a 50-year-old building located on VCU Health’s downtown campus. The center includes 32 inpatient beds, with future expansion capacity to 48 beds in support of projected 2024 patient volume. Twenty outpatient consult/exam rooms more than triples previous outpatient capacity and universal design principles ensure flexibility of spaces based on day-to-day needs.
“One in five children experiences mental illness, but only 25 percent of those children actually receive the treatment they need,” Marsha Rappley, M.D., vice president of VCU Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System said at the recent topping out ceremony. “VTCC is stepping up to help fill that gap.”
In a specially designed facility
Behavioral Healthcare’s jury cited the center’s soothing aesthetic, warm and bright color palette, and innovative approach to incorporating research into the design as its distinguishing features. The design solution includes five secure green spaces (three courtyards and two backyards) to provide ample outdoor recreational space for patients and staff, and views to colorful, light-filled interior space. Interior design strategies took into account the unique profile of the pediatric psychiatric patient and embrace warm, calming colors and comforting, home-like furnishings. Inpatient units are organized to provide a central nurses’ team center with direct sight lines to each bedroom corridor and surrounding activity spaces where patients participate in treatment, therapy and recreation. The new VTCC spans 4.5 acres, is 47 feet tall and contains 880 tons of steel. The facility includes activity spaces designed for occupational, recreation, art, music and play therapy; inpatient school programs; a gym and other recreational areas; the Children’s Mental Health Resource Center; and the Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies, the research arm of VTCC.
“The dream of having a comfortable and serene environment where children and families heal their bodies and minds is finally coming to life,” said Bela Sood, M.D., professor and mental health policy director, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “I can only imagine the enhanced mental health outcomes that will be a direct result of this new facility.”
For advancing mental health care
VTCC provides services for children and adolescents with mental health issues ranging from depression and ADD/ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and behavioral problems at home and school. In 2015, VTCC cared for 990 children requiring inpatient care and saw more than 7,000 outpatient visits. The new facility allows VTCC to develop new programs and services to better meet the needs of Virginia’s families.