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Dual environments for dual disorders: 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 (, 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 ( in Louisville, Kentucky, and Alan Muncy, a contractor and owner/operator of ARC Construction Company ( 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.

As in most new business ventures, you frequently hear the old cliche, "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.


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 woodlookalike), wood trim, and area rugs.


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;

* Safety-designed door hinges and bedroom furniture; and

* A full security system, including a digital recording system with cameras throughout the facility.

Interior amenities for patients include a theater-style classroom and spirituality center (figure 3), fitness center, nutrition station, cafe, computer learning areas, and lounge and study areas.


One of our primary goals in founding Brentwood Meadows was to create a park-like campus. In order to do this, we chose a 12-acre site in a rural area, rather than the traditionally smaller piece of land in an urban area. Our design strategy was to move out approximately--but no further than--six miles from the nearest medical/surgical hospital. This proximity to the emergency room allows us to still be in reach of hospital services, if needed, while maintaining the ability to provide a more rural, private treatment experience. This allows patients to experience treatment in a setting that ensures their confidentiality and acts as a stress reducer in terms of being able to spend time outdoors.

Brentwood Meadows utilizes its expansive outdoor area for both patient relaxation and treatment. We created three separate veranda-style courtyards for each of the facility's three populations (inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient) that include a patio, rocking chairs, ceiling fans, and a fenced-in area for privacy (figure 4). There is also a gazebo nearby that patients utilize for socializing with families or peers, as well as for counseling sessions (figure 5).



Six acres back, construction of a horticultural therapy area is currently underway. This site will contain a walking trail with different themes along the way that are designed to provide daily exercise for patients as well as a relaxing, therapeutic experience. A reflection pond, rock garden, and different landscape designs will also be built into this space. In the center of the horticultural therapy area, there will be a fireplace and a gazebo with a picnic area for hosting outdoor AA, NA, alumni, and family events. This combination of a thoughtfully-constructed facility and 12 acres of outdoor space allows us to have internal use of the facility for education and counseling, as well as the outdoor campus environment that can also be dedicated to these programs.

Since Brentwood Meadows' grand opening on October 13, 2009, the facility has experienced rapid census growth in inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient services and achieved 100 percent occupancy for the first time in January 2010. Patient satisfaction rates have been extremely positive with a 95 percent patient satisfaction rating.

Both Saling and I agree that the most gratifying experience in the initial startup of the hospital has been all the positive feedback we have received directly from patients and their families. A family wrote: "Thank you to the entire team of counselors, nurses, and doctors. You are all such assets to Brentwood Meadows and to the people of this community. I do not know you all by name but you had such a positive impact on our lives. You are truly a blessing. Thank you and God bless."

Brentwood Meadows has plans for expansion as we recently obtained three-year accreditation from The Joint Commission (TJC) with recommendations from TJC to obtain Medicare certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Additionally, Brentwood Meadows plans to apply to become a provider for military personnel and their families. During the initial construction phase, foundation was laid for a second unit and connecting corridor so that Brentwood could move quickly to add a second specialty unit if needed.

RELATED ARTICLE: Brentwood Meadows relied on the following design experts and manufacturers to create the modern, but homelike, aesthetic of the facility:

* Architect: Architectural Investments

* Contractor: ARC Construction Company

* Interior decorator: Creative Designs

* Sub-contractor: Milestone Properties

* Food service equipment: Weber Dietary Equipment

* Audio/visual installation: Selby's Home Theater

* Theater seating: Booth Seating

* Miscellaneous furnishings: RA Mason Custom Furniture and Cabinets

* Furniture dealer: Furniture Row Companies

* Computer learning area equipment: Ashton Computers

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Title Annotation:DESIGN FOCUS
Author:Hammer, Pat
Publication:Behavioral Healthcare
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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