WellStone Emergency Services
Year Completed: 2023
Project Size: 24,000 Sqft
WellStone’s Emergency Services Center was designed to meet the growing need for individuals to receive accessible and dignified mental healthcare in North Alabama. After the closure of all state-run psychiatric hospitals in the early 2010’s, the limited facilities still open were filled with long wait lists causing residents to travel 2 hours or out of state to find care. As the first new construction of its kind in Alabama, this ground-breaking facility serves as a diversion from overcrowded emergency departments and a haven for those seeking mental crisis care. Working closely with WellStone, law enforcement, and hospital leadership, this carefully curated care model precedes the integration of crisis center standards in healthcare guidelines and serves as an example for other similar facilities across the United States.
The exterior consists of modern, earthy materials emphasizing a retreat-like environment. The entry feature and large logo hold a presence on the busy Memorial Parkway for easy wayfinding for those needing emergency crisis care. The entry pulls stone inside anchoring the check-in portal, reflecting an emboldened first step towards recovery. Waiting rooms are separated into children’s and adult areas with their own designated triage corridors where clients are assessed and care planning implemented. Clients no longer in crisis can be discharged for follow up while those requiring further evaluation or care are escorted to the Observation Unit or Inpatient Unit. Up to ten adults needing short-term observation, have a 23-hour unit to reside. This unit employs the latest in therapeutic and trauma-informed environmental studies to allow for healthy de-escalation; calming finishes, prioritizing patient choice through seating and activity variety. This space also brings the outside in as warm ceiling panels extend past the exterior storefront over a multi-tier garden providing a view of nature while serving to protect client privacy from vehicular traffic.
The sixteen-bed inpatient department serves adults requiring further care for up to seven days. This department offers hospitality-inspired character challenging the stigma of behavioral healthcare settings. Clients are prioritized through a dignified healing experience while provided cutting-edge behavioral health safety features. Built to hospital standards, the design is approachable and non-threatening, preserving the dignity of each client.