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Avera Behavioral Health Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

June 1, 2006
by root
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At a cost of $32 million, the new Avera Behavioral Health Center represents a major investment in the behavioral health needs of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, community. This 100,000-sq.-ft., 110-bed inpatient facility, designed by BWBR Architects of Saint Paul, Minnesota, has five units: child, adolescent, adult, acute adult, and senior.

A whimsical butterfly sculpture greets visitors to the Avera Behavioral Health Center with a message of hope and life. Inside, glass canopies allow soothing light to flood common areas, and wood and stone finishes provide warm accents. A waterfall in the lobby “light court” offers a calming distraction for troubled families and patients. With a window behind the waterfall, the meditation room provides a refuge for further reflection, and a stained glass window and lantern enhance the spiritual environment.

Subtle curves flow throughout the facility, from nurses' stations and reception areas to flooring and wallcovering patterns. Rich colors provide a more homelike—and less institutional—appearance.

To ensure staff, patient, and visitor safety, many unobtrusive safety features were incorporated into the facility's design. Double-swing doors on all patient rooms prevent barricading, and rooms were designed so staff have maximum visibility of patients. Outdoor courtyards are enclosed by a decorative fence designed to prevent climbing.

The Behavioral Health Center includes an adjoining 30,000-sq.-ft. medical office building, and the facility connects to the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota next door. The Avera Behavioral Health Center also houses the University of South Dakota School of Medicine's psychiatry residency program, South Dakota State University's pharmacy residency program, and the Avera Brain Research Institute.