Baptist Hospital completes design plans for new behavioral health unit

Baptist Hospital has finalized design plans for a new behavioral health unit that administrators say will be built in Pensacola with “state-of-the-art” design features proven to aid in healing health mental.

The approximately 50,000 square foot facility will be built as part of the new Baptist Hospital campus located at the intersection of Brent Lane and Interstate 110 at an estimated cost of more than $30 million.

The decision on the part of Baptist Hospital administrators to include the Behavioral Health Unit in new campus plans was made in response to a growing need for mental health services across the country and also, specifically , in Pensacola.

A Baptist Hospital design plan shows a day room that will be included as part of a new behavioral health unit.

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“I think we’ve seen it across the country, the need for mental health services has really been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Brett Aldridge, senior vice president of strategy and business development and trustee of The Baptist. Hospital.

“We have a long history of addressing the mental health needs of this community, and so we felt like we were positioned to see these trends emerge early,” he continued. “And as we started to think about a new health campus, mental health was an important component of that.”

Similar to medical institutions across the country, Baptist Hospital has seen an increase in patients seeking mental health treatment since the pandemic began in 2020.

A Baptist Hospital design plan shows the entrance to its new behavioral health unit.

“Because of the experience we have in this space, we really wanted to take the next step and invest in a new state-of-the-art facility that could create a healing environment to meet the needs of this type of growing mental health issue – this is happening across the country, but certainly in our own community,” Aldridge said.

The unit will include 72 beds including 36 beds for adult patients, 10 for geriatric patients, 14 for adolescents and 12 beds for children.

“We provide care to thousands of people who require behavioral health care in a hospital setting each year. More than 1,100 of these patients are children between the ages of 10 and 17 and as young as 5 years old,” said Mark Faulkner , president and CEO of Baptist Health Care, in a written statement. “We are honored to bring this new facility and environment to our community which will provide a haven in which patients can focus on their recovery.”

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A Baptist Hospital design plan for its new behavioral health unit shows the planned kindergarten.

The building is designed for inpatient care, but will not be a long-term care facility.

“This is for a time when patients need intensive therapy and therefore in a hospital setting,” Aldridge said. “It’s for a time when patients need intensive therapy.”

Patients will be able to go to the inpatient unit and stay there for a period of time until they “stabilize” and/or before resuming or starting new outpatient therapies, Aldridge later added.

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The floor plan includes patient rooms, living rooms for communal meetings, meeting spaces for group meetings and individual consultations, and a sensory room.

The sensory room will combine several types of stimuli such as special lighting, colors and sounds that help people develop, interact with and regulate their senses.

“It’s interesting. It has a variety of different stimuli: lights, colors and sounds. There are interactive components,” Aldridge said in reference to an interactive LED display that will be included in the stimuli room.

“Really, it’s a place for a kind of quiet thoughtful healing, but where you’re not isolated because you have different stimulations going on. It’s new and different, but it’s a cool space.”

The colors chosen for the interior of the building are meant to reflect a coastal environment to promote a calm and soothing ambience. Additional plans call for the building to be filled with an abundance of natural light that “has been shown to play a crucial role in healing,” according to Baptist Hospital officials.

Because healthcare professionals know that outdoor environments can promote healing, Aldridge said, the new behavioral health unit will also include outdoor spaces including several gardens in which patients can walk and spend time.

The new Baptist Hospital campus is expected to open in the fall of 2023.

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at or 850-435-8680.

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