Healthcare Magazine did an amazing 4-page piece on Huelat Davis’ recent project Merrifield Center which combines 13 different behavioral health services scattered throughout the county into one comprehensive building.
This facility is unique in terms that it’s a behavioral health facility and police substation.
“If there’s an incident of a person behaving badly, someone who obviously has some sort of psychiatric disorder, in most counties they’d go to a hospital ED and then to the police station,” Noritake explains. “In Fairfax County, they’d be sent here. It’s almost like a police substation, with a specially trained officer on duty who takes over and writes a report, and the patient is under police control until they’re diagnosed by facility staff.” The goal, adds Huelat, “is to keep a lot of these people out of jail and get them safely into a rehab or treatment program.”
“People may be in a psychotic state, and if they come into a place that’s dreary, that’s dark, that looks like an institution—this may hinder recovery. But now, they come into a bright place. There’s good lighting, which seems to really play an important part. They can sit in emergency services, see this very welcoming design. There’s a place where kids can play, where moms and dads don’t have to worry about little kids when they’re trying to help a loved one. There are people down there to keep an eye on things, peer workers to help intercede. It’s almost night and day,” Williams says. “It has reduced the number of [violent] incidents and we’re able to do more for these folks.”
Despite some initial concerns from both staff and users about losing the independent, cozy nature of their previous workplaces, Williams is emphatic about the results and how the community has responded. “They love it!” Williams says. “People are happy, they’re proud to come into this building now. Our compliance rate went up. Incidents are way down.”