How we can help ensure safety on behavioral health projects
Here's an idea for you: If you are working on a behavioral health project—standalone or part of a larger hospital facility—have a special submittal party to look over everything that goes into the spaces where the patients will be. Every object and every construction assembly has to be ligature-proof. Every fixture and device has to be removal-proof. Every built-in surface has to be looked at to see if the patient can break it, burn it, eat it, or hurt themselves or a staff member with it. Run a 3-D model to make sure that there are no blind spots or hiding places.
We have to construct the room so that medical equipment and supplies are accessible by the staff but secured from the patient. We have to review the hardware to make certain that doors are positively locked when they need to be but that staff can exit quickly when required. What are we putting in place so that a staff member can call for help?
It sounds grim, but we know the characteristics of the fixtures and materials that we use in construction better than the nurses and other staff members do, and we can provide a real boost to their safety if we just take a few hours to review these items before they go in. Point this area of the project out to your major suppliers—they may be able to suggest new products in the marketplace that the design team doesn't know about yet, and they may be able to provide "watch-outs" from past projects.