El Camino Health Behavioral Health Services Taube Pavilion

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness in a given year, placing it among the most common health conditions in the United States. People suffering from mental illness are often under stress as a result of their condition, and this is often amplified by cultural stigma surrounding mental healthcare. These societal pressures can translate into patients delaying or even avoiding treatment. In the Bay Area this is a particularly charged issue, informed by issues of homelessness, systematic underfunding for mental health care, and a work culture that puts a premium on 24/7 availability.

Located on an edge site of its Mountain View campus, the 55,000 sq. ft. Behavioral Health Services Taube Pavilion is a high visibility marker of ECH’s commitment to providing a safe and comfortable healing environment where patients are treated with respect and compassion. The building’s face to the community is light in spirit, welcoming, and non-institutional, helping to destigmatize mental illness and its treatment. The entry lobby is visually prominent and welcoming: a two-story glass volume easily recognizable amongst the mature heritage trees on site. The material palette of variegated aluminum panels, terra cotta-colored cement board, and board-formed concrete responds to the park-like setting of the existing campus. A covered walkway secures the central patient garden and connects the Pavilion back to main hospital.

The design team worked closely with ECH staff on several fronts to establish an understanding of best practices in the facilities design for behavioral health programs. The effort included benchmarking, tours of relevant facilities, and academic peer review—a challenging process as successful, national, holistic models of care are difficult to identify. Treatment focuses on stabilizing patients within an inpatient setting for short periods of time, then enabling patients to return home and continue treatment as an outpatient. This approach emphasizes patients’ return to their daily lives, a significant contributing factor to successful ongoing care.

The programming approach centered on the layout of patient care suites, which are modular with dispersed ancillary nursing stations. The resulting flexibility allows for individualized care to niche populations, such as those suffering from postpartum depression or substance abuse. The patient care suite layouts support integrated care, timely assessments, specialty programs, and connection to nature. Four courtyards, three internal and one external, bring daylight into the common areas. A variety of communal spaces with direct views and daylight, offer families and patients warm and comfortable places to wait, meet, or socialize.

Lining the southern perimeter of the facility, the care suites are residential and hospitality driven in character, with rich materials and soothing colors to support the therapeutic program goals. One strategy used to assist in the stabilization of patients who are undergoing inpatient treatment is the specification of light fixtures and timed controls that permit color temperature to subtly change over the course a 24-hour period. Research indicates that this provision enhances natural circadian rhythms, assisting in the stabilization of moods and sleep patterns that are often disrupted due to mental illness.

The safety and security of patients and staff was a primary concern for ECH, and influenced every decision throughout the design process. The building limits blind corners and any fixtures or elements that could be used for self-harm or the harm of others. Patient rooms are designed with custom doors that can be removed within less than a minute in case patients are in danger in their private rooms. Window glazing is polycarbonate or laminated safety glazing to prevent shattering, and all screws and fasteners are tamper-proof. Design masks the prevalence of these safety measures to make the Taube Pavilion a welcoming and warm environment for patients.

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