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St. Rita's Medical Center, Geriatric Psychiatric Unit

May 1, 2005
by root
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Lima, Ohio The recently renovated 18-bed Geriat ric Psychiatric Unit at St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, embraces the idea that interior design can play an important role in patient care and recovery. For example, strong color contrast in flooring in off-limits areas such as nurses’ stations and exits is us ed to discourage patients from entering these areas. On walls, contrasting door frames help to call attention to patient rooms, while staff- only doors are camouflaged with the wall’s color to keep patients from noticing and then entering these spaces.

Color contrast helps to define the patient bathrooms’ components, too. The walls provide a strong contrast with the floor, as does the perimeter of t he sink counter. A dark counter color was chosen so that patients can see their lighter-colored toiletries. A white toilet set against a dar k teal background provides a stark, visual aid and cues patients to use the toilet. Patient rooms are laid out to give patients a direct vie w into the bathroom.

Designers from Vintage Archonics (an architectural, engineering, and design firm in Fort Wayne, Indiana) chose a n overall color scheme of rust and green, with a lot of natural light and creamy, off-white backgrounds to keep the spaces light and cheerfu l. The colors and tones, specifically selected because they are easier for the aged eye to see, are warm and relaxing, and enhance the unit& #8217;s noninstitutional feel. Artwork in the hallway and various rooms reflects scenes familiar to patients, most of whom are from this rur al area of Ohio. Common motifs are farming, homemaking, quilting, and baseball.

Throughout the unit, rooms are carefully arranged and furnished. A soft but moistureproof Crypton® velour upholstery was selected with older patients’ fragile skin in mind. Chairs ar e designed with sturdy armrests and are of appropriate height so that patients can more easily rise from a sitting position without assistan ce.

A sitting alcove, now known as “the gathering place,” is located in front of the main nurses’ station. This ser ves as a social hub, giving patients and staff an area where they can naturally interact during the day. The nurses’ stations are desi gned with higher vertical areas to help conceal computer monitors and paperwork, helping to keep patient records private. The Group Therapy Dining Room has homelike kitchen cupboards and oak dining tables and chairs. The Quiet Room is a warmly decorated space with quilts and comf ortable seating—an area where patients and/or their families can watch TV or videos, play games, or put puzzles together. BHM
Photos by Lisa Tyner-Troxell, Lisa Tyner Photography

For more information, contact Elissa Packard, ASID, Director of Interior Design at Vintage Archonics, at (260) 489-3543, or send e-mail to