Designing Opioid Treatment Facilities for Patient Privacy and Dignity

By Ryan Turner, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED AP
Principal, Healthcare

In my last post, I detailed the efforts architectural firms like DSGW are making to help healthcare professionals combat the opioid crisis. But there’s a human side of this epidemic that too-often gets overlooked, thanks in large part to the stigma that surrounds it, and those afflicted by it.

There isn’t a segment of our population that goes untouched by this crisis. It affects all ages, all genders, all races and all income levels. And, in our efforts to defeat the addiction, we mustn’t lose sight of those addicted.

That’s why firms like DSGW are taking an active role in protecting a patient’s privacy and dignity while they are battling with their addiction.

In every healthcare space we design, our goal is to create a calming, welcoming environment for the patient, that is also an effective space for the provider. This goal doesn’t change when dealing with those touched by the opioid crisis. Here are a few of the ways we strive to accomplish that goal:

  • Finishes: We select a calming palette of colors, finishes, images, and art to help patients feel relaxed and welcome in the space.
  • Elements and Materials: Though some spaces used for specimen collection and emergency treatment of opioid patients are – by design – minimal and sparse, we still make certain that the massing, materials, and architectural elements provided in the space are comfortable and calming and include views of nature whenever possible.
  • Wayfinding: Our designs don’t begin and end in the treatment space or exam room. We make careful, conscious choices when designing the layout of a campus or a facility so that the patient has a relaxed and private-as-possible experience when navigating.

In the fight against this epidemic, DSGW and firms like it recognize that, by making the right choices in design, we can provide an efficient, effective facility that still puts a premium on patient privacy and dignity.