New Pediatric Mental Health Facility Balances Comfort, Safety

Installation of Ecore ergonomic flooring at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children offers comforting, functional features.

Situated within the campus of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC) has been providing vital mental health care for children and adolescents across the state of Virginia since 1956. VTCC is the Child and Adolescent Division of the VCU Department of Psychiatry.

Offering both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services to patients from age three to 17, the VTCC treats a wide range of health issues from depression and ADD/ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and behavioral problems. To meet a growing need for psychiatric services for the state’s youth and support ongoing research and training of behavioral health professionals, the VTCC embarked on a plan to construct a new larger facility.

mental healthIn removing the facility from its 50-year-old institutional space on the downtown VCU Health campus, Dr. Alexandria W. Lewis, Ed.D., executive director of the VTCC and team, sought to refresh the healing environment of the new center with thoughtful design choices.

“When it comes to behavioral health facilities, it’s important to reach a balance between comfort and safety in design,” said Dr. Lewis. “We wanted to create an atmosphere for the new facility that was not institutional but rather as home-like as possible.”

The new design called for secure green spaces, natural light, and a bright color palette. However, to meet the needs of a modern health care center, the specification of the design materials required additional attention to safety – including the specification of ergonomic, hygienic flooring for in-patient rooms and the gymnasium.

According to Dr. Lewis, the acute in-patient hospital had to consider low infection risk, durability, and comfort for children who may be barefoot or in socks. Enhanced acoustics also was a concern with a focus on quieting the interior space and reducing stress and anxiety related to noise.

“We sought a seamless flooring option that could be contoured up the wall for infection control purposes, and that was durable, quiet, and created a comfortable environment for patients and staff,” said Dr. Lewis. “We were interested in Ecore’s Forest Rx product because it features all of those attributes.”

To allow staff to evaluate the functionality of Ecore flooring, a mock-up inpatient room was built and then tested by both the nursing and plant operations staff, with testers reporting Forest Rx to be aesthetically pleasing and a vast improvement in comfort underfoot over the current floors.

Installed in all 32 patient rooms within the new facility, Forest Rx features 5 millimeters of Ecore’s composition rubber fusion-bonded to the back of a heterogeneous vinyl layer. This combination creates a surface that may reduce the risk of injury associated with falls, while offering sound control and comfort underfoot. The result is a surface that provides a more comfortable and safe environment for children and staff.

mental healthThe VTCC gymnasium, a 3,728-square-foot multipurpose space that serves as an inpatient gym area, but also flexibly hosts training services and features a retractable stage and screens for special receptions and events, required a low-maintenance, high-end finish surfacing option that would help create a comfortable and quiet environment for patients. VTCC chose a second Ecore flooring solution, Strait Rx, to complement the Forest Rx installation in this area of the new building.

Hygienic as a result of its heat-welded installation, Strait Rx offers a polish-free maintenance regime for the entire lifetime of the surface, ensuring the floor looks clean and fresh with little to no upkeep.

The gymnasium flooring also was designed with special inlays for children to play games like basketball and four square.

With patient rooms located down the hall, acoustics also played an important role in the flooring selection for the gym. Like Forest Rx, Strait Rx is an ergonomic, sound absorbent product designed to reduce impact and structure borne sounds.

“We are very satisfied with the new Ecore flooring in our inpatient rooms and gym,” said Dr. Lewis. “Feedback from staff has been really positive. Aesthetically, the floors looks very good and are easy to maintain. Ecore flooring is an excellent match for VTCC and other behavioral health facilities.”