Lancaster County Responds to Mental Health Needs with New Facility

By Roxanne Squires

LANCASTER, Pa. – Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital (LBHH) has opened its doors to its new 77,000-square-foot behavioral health facility – expanding access to inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment across the region.

The $30 million project was prompted by a community health assessment from Penn Medicine Lancaster; revealing that over 30,000 adults in Lancaster County have a diagnosed behavioral health condition.

This, and a growing local population combined with a broader recognition of mental health’s impact on physical health drove a partnership between Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and Universal Health Services to create a freestanding psychiatric hospital that enables wellness by providing strength- and evidence-based, trauma informed care.

The 126-bed unit houses six units including the County’s only adolescent unit, a general Adult Unit serving patients with a primary mental health diagnosis and co-occurring needs through Substance Abuse Education, a women’s trauma unit, a psych/med unit and an intensive adult unit.

The patient treatment programs include group and individual therapies, evidence based treatments such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Motivational Interviewing, Art and Music Therapy, Fitness/Movement Therapy, Aroma Therapy, Pet Therapy and Daily Meditation.

Patient rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art safety features that facilitate healing and compassionate care including: each unit featuring access to a courtyard with walking paths and outdoor therapeutic space, an indoor gymnasium, intentionally designed therapeutic environment that includes calming color palette, natural wall décor and art, and natural light throughout building design and a ligature resistant fixtures to help maintain patient safety.

“In general, this facility is designed to ensure patient and staff safety and security while maintaining a therapeutic environment that preserves a patient’s dignity, privacy, and comfort. We wanted to provide comforting and non-institutional environment,” said Bryn Heist, RH, CHC, senior regional project manager of design & construction at Universal Health Services, Inc.

The facility also has the ability to serve several different patient populations with differing levels of acuity.

The building is specifically designed to cater to these individualized populations by their respective Nursing Units. For instance, one unit caters to patients that have minor physical medical conditions along with behavioral conditions. This particular unit features wider corridors for patient bed transport, additional storage in patient rooms, and specialized wayfinding elements designed to assist patients who may be suffering from memory loss.

Additionally, the overall building layout facilitates movement of these patient populations between their respective Nursing Units and shared therapy/dining spaces while maintaining total separation of the populations. Certain units are set up to provide bed swing capability, so LBHH can respond to changing therapeutic needs within its community.

LBHH also features a building automation system (BAS), which provides the facilities team with real-time remote monitoring and control of a majority of the building’s mechanical and electrical systems. The BAS provides another tool for our team to manage and optimize building efficiency.

Universal Health Services selected Stengel-Hill Architecture (SHA) of Louisville, Ky with Warfel Construction of East Petersburg, Pa. selected as the General Contractor for the project. Warfel worked closely with UHS and SHA through both the design and construction processes.

“One of the more unique challenges of this project was the setting. LBHH is located in Lancaster, Pa., and we were tasked with providing a design that respects and reinforces the area’s rich historical urban fabric,” said Heist. “With the support of the local zoning authorities – and continued support of our neighbors throughout the construction process – we were able to successfully meet this challenge. The end result is a state-of-the-art facility that provides the best patient care and a handsome exterior that fits in with, and hopefully enhances, its surrounding environment.”

Construction on LBHH began in May 2017 and concluded in June 2018; with a soft opening on July 9, 2018.