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Live from NAPHS: Celebrating 10 years of the 'Design Guide'

March 12, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS) 2013 Annual Meeting has been filled with discussions of the present state of behavioral health care, and in-depth looks at what the future holds for this field.  However, today during the luncheon attendees celebrated the past as Mark Covall, president and CEO of NAPHS, presented the NAPHS Leadership Award for Quality. The award was presented to James Hunt, AIA, NCARB, and David Sine, ARM, CSP, CPHRM, and recognized the 10-year anniversary of their publication, the Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities.  

Hunt and Sine were also recognized for their commitment to maintaining and continuously updating this resource that identifies specific items and manufacturers (with model numbers and photographs) to explain why hundreds of resources (from door levers to security glass) are appropriate for use in the behavioral healthcare setting. The latest is Edition 6.0, published this month.    

As Covall presented the award, he admitted that he didn’t envision this resource “taking off to the degree that it has” when he was first introduced to the idea in 2003.

Sine shared with the audience the story of how the Design Guide begun: “We were two guys responsible for building and running behavioral health hospitals, who got together and said, ‘We ought to write all of this stuff down.’”

And so they did, with a budget of only $1,300. The next question for the duo: how to share it with the field. At the time, Sine had a relationship with NAPHS and approached them to see if they had ideas for how to get the guide published.

“Think for a moment about how brave they were,” Sine told the attendees. “They were about to put a document out there that actually names names, identifies products, and says, ‘We like these better than others.’ That sounds like a field day for lawyers, but we’ve never had a problem.”

The authors, who have extensive backgrounds in safety, both expressed gratitude for multiple people at NAPHS, including Covall, and admitted that this wouldn’t have been possible without their support.

Behavioral Healthcare blogger Hunt, who served more than 20 years as director of facilities management for the Menninger Clinic, is now president of Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, LLC (Topeka, Kan.) which works to improve patient and staff safety in 22 states and Canada. He also serves as a consultant to architects on the design, construction and remodeling process.

Sine has over 25 years experience in safety, risk-management, and organizational consulting. Among other accomplishments, he served as the state safety director of two Eastern states, senior staffing engineer for the Joint Commission, and also senior consultant for the American Hospital Association. Today, he is the president of SafetyLogic Systems (Austin, Texas).   

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