COLUMBIA — After seven months of work, the Missouri Psychiatric Center unveiled the first renovations to its north unit Thursday. The $13 million undertaking includes the complete remodeling of the center's adult units on the second floor.
“Everything in here is basically brand new,” said John Lauriello, medical director of the MU Psychiatric Center and Chancellor’s Chair of Excellence in Psychiatry at the MU School of Medicine.
The theme for the renovations was patient safety and included decisions on minute details such as screws and how power outlets look. The doors to the bedroom units now have alarm systems and swing both ways to prevent patients from using the door to commit suicide, Lauriello said.
The bathrooms are another notable change. The old units had dormitory-style bathrooms. The new two-patient bedrooms have personal bathrooms.
“It was an expensive change,” Lauriello said of the new bathroom facilities.
The renovation is part of the transition of facility ownership from the state to MU Health Care. The state provided $13 million for the renovation as part of the agreement when MU Health Care took over. The old center closed June 30, 2009.
Lauriello said the psychiatric center needed updating.
“It was a great 50-year-old building, but it was a 50-year-old building,” he said.
The new nursing station and common area are major improvements to the center, as well.
“(The common area) is trying to maximize interaction with the patients,” Lauriello said.
Missy Jost, a registered nurse and former nurse manager at the inpatient psychiatric north unit, said the center looks warmer and more welcoming now.
“I have to say, I am so excited about this," she said. "We already provide good care for our patients, but this is a beautiful environment in which to do it.”
Another notable change is the color scheme for the entire unit. Lauriello said they chose non-institutional colors that they wouldn't mind including in their homes, such as browns, blues and greens.
Lauriello is also excited about the new activity room. It includes a kiln for the ceramics group at the center, which occupational therapist David McSpadden noted is a popular activity for patients.
“Our goal is to get people to be safe, but to be motivated for changes in their life," Lauriello said. "We hope we can encourage more activities for folks.”
Sophia McGuirk, a psychiatric aid, said she is excited about the staff getting more room.
“It seems bigger. It’s definitely brighter,” she said.
The Missouri Psychiatric Center provides short-term intensive inpatient treatment services for adults, adolescents and children, according to a news release from the MU Health System. It provides a safe environment for patients who may be suicidal or are suffering from a psychiatric illness, according to the release. The center also includes an outpatient clinic at the University Physicians-Green Meadows location.
The south area of the second floor will be remodeled next. Renovations are scheduled to be done by November, according to the release.
Other areas renovated or planned for renovation are the children’s inpatient and outpatient units, lobby, emergency assessment unit, children’s visitor lounge and administrative areas.
“We really want to be the psychiatric hospital that serves everyone in the community," Lauriello said. "This will be the kind of thing we’ll have for the next 25 years.”