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Dual environments for dual disorders

April 1, 2010
by Pat Hammer, MSA, CADAC-IV
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Brentwood Meadows utilizes both indoor and outdoor spaces as environments for addiction and mental health treatment

Even before I founded the beautiful new addiction and mental health recovery center, Brentwood Meadows (http://www.brentwoodmeadows.com), I admit that I have always been a big dreamer. I started out in the field of social work in 1982 believing that I could change the world by helping one person at a time get their life back on track. Twenty-eight years later, in March 2008, I fulfilled one of my biggest dreams with the purchase of 12 acres of land in the tri-state area of Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois and the vision to design and build a specialty hospital. I wanted to provide patients and their families suffering from chemical dependency and mental illness a safe, clinically progressive, lodge-style environment to begin the recovery process.

I haven't changed in that I still dream big, but as I get older I realize the critical importance of surrounding myself with colleagues and business partners who have the experience and drive to help me turn those dreams into reality. With that insight, I recruited Kevin Burns, an architect and owner/operator of Architectural Investments (http://www.architecturalinvestments.com) in Louisville, Kentucky, and Alan Muncy, a contractor and owner/operator of ARC Construction Company (http://www.arccon.net) out of Jeffersonville, Indiana. The combined expertise of a hospital operator, an architect, and a contractor as real estate partners for Brentwood Meadows provided the foundation for a successful partnership to build a state-of-the-art psychiatric and addictions treatment hospital.

Brentwood Meadows was named in part after my father-in-law who passed away in 2006 and coincidentally has the same name as one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson. He was the founding pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church located in Brentwood, Tennessee, and told me prior to his death that he wished he could have done more to help people suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs. Pastor Bill Wilson was the most spiritually grounded person I had ever met and frequently joked that it must be really special to have so many friends with a name like Bill Wilson.

To strengthen the operating company, I joined forces with long-time colleague and friend, Dean Saling, MSW, who is a seasoned behavioral healthcare professional of 32 years. Partnering with Saling proved to be the final component to launching the Brentwood Meadows healthcare venture. Saling, Burns, Muncy, and I spent countless hours evaluating the comprehensive hospital construction design standards while creating a non-institutional environment that would look more like a lodge than a hospital. The design phase, architectural drawings, and state building approval process took approximately nine months.

Founding partners pat hammer, president, and dean saling, vice president
Founding partners Pat Hammer, President, and Dean Saling, Vice President As in most new business ventures, you frequently hear the old cliché, “You should expect to expect the unexpected.” I was prepared for many bumps in the road, but I was not prepared for what happened in the fall of 2008. The U.S. financial crisis appeared to have enough strength to kill the project, but the Brentwood Meadows team never gave up, in spite of all the gloom and doom that was communicated 24 hours a day throughout the various media outlets. Fighting through the fear of the economic crisis and convincing the banks that Brentwood Meadows would be successful, the investor group worked out the details to begin construction of the hospital. In February 2009, the ARC construction team under the leadership of Muncy broke ground and initiated the construction of Brentwood Meadows.

The design of Brentwood Meadows represents what our team determined to be the future of behavioral health facilities. The facility was built with a steel frame and concrete walls-typical hospital design standards. But to create a comfortable, inviting, and homelike feel, we combined stone, brick, and some of the indoor accents as a covering for the concrete (figure 1). This exterior design looks almost residential-very different from the traditional behavioral health hospital.

Brentwood Meadows exterior

Photography by Dean Saling

The interior design of the facility begins with a warm color scheme of greens, oranges, and other natural colors that you would typically find in a bed and breakfast or lodge (figure 2). These colors are enhanced by the use of accents, such as wood flooring (which is actually a wood-lookalike), wood trim, and area rugs.

Brentwood Meadows interior

Safety was the first concern for our construction and design team, and standards for safety as outlined in the American Institute of Architects' healthcare design standard manual were followed by the letter. The entire facility and each of its rooms were built towards those standards, and include safety measures such as:

  • Shatterproof, non-glass mirrors;

  • Breakaway shower curtains, shower heads, and drapes;