Seattle Children’s Hospital’s new 34,000-square-foot Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) serves children ages 3 to 18 years with complex mental health issues.

Emphasizing a life-affirming attitude with patient and staff safety elements built into the design, Seattle Children’s leadership and the design team at ZGF Architects LLP (Seattle) worked together to create an environment that supports the patient population in an entirely reimagined way.

Prior to the redesign, the PBMU was operating at a 98 percent capacity in 2013 and 102 percent capacity in 2014 with 180 patient diversions in 2014. The old facility did not support an optimal model of care, resulting in patients using hallways for seclusion spaces and limited transition between private and public spaces.

The new program provides a variety of spaces that patients can access outside of their single patient rooms. The focus is on creating a nurturing and supportive environment using both natural and playful design elements, rather than a sterile detention-like state, while ensuring security and safety.

Phase 1, which was completed last fall, features 25 beds, a dining area, comfort rooms, group rooms, a classroom, recreational facilities, and a designated area for the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program.

Single patient rooms have large windows that allow natural light in and views to the outdoors to maximize healing. The facility incorporates warm and natural materials that are used to aid in wayfinding, connect patients with nature, and create a calming environment.

When Phase 2 opens in spring 2015, the PBMU will have a total of 41 beds on two levels. A central stair connecting the two floors of the unit will give patients the ability to move across the floors and up and down throughout the unit.

The renovated facility was designed using Lean strategies that emphasized function, program, and experience, while identifying opportunities for minimizing waste and improving efficiency and patient outcomes. The result is a new facility that supports the health and well-being of patients, families, and staff.