New Facility Provides Space for Advances in Autism Care

Hospital For Special Care / Photos courtesy of Bruce Peter Photography

New Britain, CT – Hospital for Special Care (HFSC), specializing in care for children and adolescents living with autism, recently opened the new Autism Inpatient Unit and partial hospital facility designed by Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. (Kaestle Boos).

This new 18,000sf, $13- million facility expands the continuum of autism services by increasing access to inpatient care and reducing the number of children “stuck” in emergency rooms. The partial hospitalization program will provide support for children to transition back into the community following an inpatient stay and help others remain safely at home without requiring an inpatient level of care.

The design of this unit was created with patient and staff safety as a central element. All patient rooms are designed to be visible from central staff offices, and everything within the patient area is ligature resistant. This includes all plumbing fixtures, door hardware, and light fixtures. The entire facility is divided into two smaller units with six patients on each side, and staff space in the middle so it can be shared between employees for each side.

The main group space within the Autism Inpatient Unit is designed to be a multi-function room that allows for dining, activities, and play space. The floor is designed to create different zones within the room, and the floor pattern and the acoustical panels do not have any clear pattern. This special request from hospital staff to was make sure patients do not get distracted by a specific pattern, which is common for those with autism.

All materials used to build the Autism Inpatient Unit are very durable. Patient rooms are constructed using concrete masonry units covered with epoxy paint and the ceilings are impact resistant gypsum board. The group space is also constructed with concrete masonry units and impact resistant gypsum board with ceilings that are a combination of impact resistant gypsum board and acoustical tile. The design of the corridors includes an impact resistant wall covering and crash rails for protection. The floors in patient bathrooms are resinous with a texture to help prevent injury of the staff helping the patients in a wet environment.

The architectural design of the Autism Inpatient Unit allows HFSC to address the need for a holistic, tailored, and coordinated approach to caring for children with autism. These services increase stability for children impacted by autism at home and in their community, teach functional skills for daily living, reduce self-harming/destructive behaviors and reduce family and parental stress associated with the pressures of raising a child with autism.

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