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Oceanside recovery in the Midwest

January 1, 2010
by Michelle Herman, MA
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Preferred Family Healthcare's Adolescent Treatment Program treats clients in a tropical setting

Central Missouri is perhaps the last place one would expect to see an ocean or beach, but a tropical-themed remodeling of Preferred Family Healthcare's three-story facility in Jefferson City, Mo., has transformed its substance-abuse treatment center into an island escape for teens.

Dining room
Dining Room. Photographers: Michelle Herman and Jamie Campbell.

Preferred Family Healthcare began offering adolescent residential programming in Jefferson City in early 2000. Until its move to the current three-story facility, Preferred offered educational and counseling services at one location during the day, with meals and lodging at a group home 10 miles away. Both former spaces were crowded and uninviting. The new building, not far from the state capitol and governor's mansion, not only combines programming and living quarters under a single roof, but eliminates the time and expense of daily transportation.

Preferred family healthcare adolescent treatment program-jefferson city
Preferred Family Healthcare Adolescent Treatment Program-Jefferson City

“This project has been ‘a dream come true’ for Preferred Family Healthcare,” says Senior Vice President Ann Hutton. “We continually strive to offer our consumers the best possible treatment process and environment. We want our consumers and their family members to feel safe and welcomed in our facilities.”

The building has three floors, each with separate functions. The reception area just inside the first-floor front entrance is inviting with its subtle, metallic palette of blues and greens. Interior designers Mia Mandel, Sharon May-Zinser, and Jeanine Bequette of Directions in Design, St. Louis, chose a fresh, young color scheme of turquoise and cobalt blues and sea foam and celadon greens, with Birdseye maple wood finishes and accents of stainless steel metals.

Mandel explains, “A backlit undulating ceiling pattern and colors were selected to have a tranquil effect upon entering the facility. These color hues help create a calmness to the space, which we felt was important for this facility. The design team also incorporated wall-mounted mood lighting using peaceful LED colored lights to create movement. This colorful yet serene interior design was carried throughout the facility.”

Reception area
Reception area

Staff now has ample office space throughout the bottom two floors of the new building. The first floor also has conferencing and group counseling spaces, staff workrooms and break areas, and a multi-purpose room with a refreshment bar equipped for multi-media presentations, making it ideal for meetings or training. The second floor is primarily dedicated to youth programming. It houses classrooms, group counseling and family therapy rooms, and spaces for creating art and music as part of Preferred Family Healthcare's hallmark Achieving Recovery Through Creativity (A.R.T.C.) program. A back exit on the second floor opens onto a hillside and a grassy play area fenced for privacy and confidentiality.

With youthful residents in mind, designers created a tropical paradise theme for the living quarters, which are located on the facility's third level. This floor plan provides a shared living space that encourages teens to socialize yet ensures a safe and supervised environment.

Staff office
Staff office
Conference room
Conference room

Meeting room
Meeting room

“The selection of materials for the third floor needed to be highly durable while maintaining the design intent,” says Mandel. “That was a challenge! The entire facility was painted with an extremely durable and stain-resistant product that is environmentally friendly. We selected high-performance floor coverings for very high traffic areas that are non-slip and add acoustic control. Flooring for the lounge, bedrooms, and fitness room are antimicrobial and can even be ‘hosed off’ if needed. The lights are vandal resistant and shatterproof to ensure a safe environment.” The commons are visually divided by different flooring materials. There is carpeted “land” for the lounge area and a vinyl floor emulating a “sand beach” on the dining side. Permanently secured round tables with painted umbrellas inset in the ceiling sit next to a beach scene of palm trees, surf boards, and ocean painted by a St. Louis muralist. The kitchen counter is built to resemble a “tiki stand.”