Enhancing Addiction Recovery with UPMC’s Latest Facility

Nestled in the rural landscape of Somerset, Pennsylvania, is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Western Behavioral Health at Twin Lakes—a specialized facility offering comprehensive addiction treatment and support services for both adults and teenagers.

Challenged with the limitations of its two aging facilities, which housed only 40 patients at a time, UPMC recognized the pressing need to expand its capacity with the addition of a third building. This decision was especially crucial, as Somerset County and surrounding areas were facing escalating opioid and methamphetamine dependency.

Increasing capacity was just one facet of UPMC’s strategy; they also aimed to redefine their approach to rehabilitative care.

“Our team worked hand-in-hand with UPMC to ensure that the building not only aided the recovery journey but also fostered a warm, residential-like atmosphere distinct from traditional hospital or psychiatric clinical designs,” said CPL Vice President and Northeast Region Healthcare Leader, Michelle Trott, AIA, NCARB, ACHA.

Image shows the entrance to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Western Behavioral Health at Twin Lakes. There is a pavement sidewalk leading to the building with mulch garden beds surrounding it. The building has a stone and red vinyl facade. The entrance way is flanked by two honey colored posts.

The 18,400 sq. ft. building was designed to incorporate various spaces and thoughtful elements, including a communal lounge and dining area, wood-toned cabinetry and comfortable furnishings. The 12 additional patient rooms are flooded with natural light streaming through expansive windows and are furnished with beds, desks, nightstands and table lamps, creating an ambiance reminiscent of a cozy dormitory.

Trott emphasized, “Creating a relaxed and homely environment is a major part of supporting patients on their addiction recovery journey by nurturing feelings of security and well-being.”

Throughout the design process, the safety of both patients and staff remained paramount. The final plans established distinct zones, effectively separating administrative offices and storage areas from patient quarters and recreational spaces. Secure yet aesthetically pleasing residential windows provide even more patient protection.

Image shows a waiting room with a consultation area. A patient is standing at the window of the consultation area speaking to someone on the other side.

The design also integrated essential clinical features like new exam rooms, a nursing station, extra consultation areas and several group rooms—all geared toward enhancing staff workflow and streamlining patient admissions.

Image is a nurse's station. There are multiple chairs at a curved desk. There are windows on the wall the desk is facing. A woman sits at one of the computers.

Drawing inspiration from the surrounding mountains, the building’s exterior embraces a “Cabin Lodge” design, seamlessly blending with the local architectural aesthetic. Careful measures were also taken to preserve the site’s native ecosystem, with creative solutions like water diversions employed to maintain the nearby natural spring and duck pond.

“Beyond revitalizing addiction treatment, the facility plays a crucial role in strengthening the community,” said Trott. “It serves as a secure, therapeutic haven that offers patients an optimal environment for their recovery, making a significant difference in the battle against addiction in the Somerset region.”

As a go-getting Senior Copywriter with a penchant for innovative collaboration and more than a decade of experience, Sarah applies resolute writing, editing and research skills towards developing compelling content that serves as a powerful reflection of the CPL brand.

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