Ohio Reformatory for Women officials and staff broke ground Wednesday for the new Residential Treatment Unit and Outpatient Treatment Mall. The facility will provide mental health services for women incarcerated at ORW. Pictured from left are Katie Nixon, ORW deputy warden of special service; Ernie Moore, deputy director of the Office of Prisons; Kevin Stockdale, deputy director of the Office of Administration; Stuart Hudson, ODRC assistant director; Teri Baldauf, ORW warden; Annette Chambers-Smith, ODRC director; Chyqulynn Jefferson, ORW deputy warden of operations; Cheryl Lyman, deputy director of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission; Kelly Storm, ODRC behavioral health operations director; Tara Nickle, ORW social work supervisor; Erin Maldonado, Franklin Medical Center deputy warden of special services and Jessica Lavelle, ORW social work supervisor. (Journal-Tribune photo by Kayleen Petrovia)
Ohio Reformatory for Women officials broke ground Wednesday for a new mental health and inpatient treatment facility 20 years in the making.
“It’s a dream come true, really,” Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Annette Chambers-Smith said.
The $32.1 million Residential Treatment Unit (RTU) and Outpatient Treatment Mall will soon house mental health services for female offenders at ORW.
Chambers-Smith said she initiated the master plan for the project when she served as deputy director of administration at ORW decades ago.
“I had a vision we would make plans for the type of corrections I thought we should be doing,” she said.
At the center of that vision was comprehensive mental health services that decrease recidivism.
Kelly Storm, behavioral health operations director, said the new facility epitomizes the “multi-disciplinary approach” ORW offers for treatment.
“ORW has historically led the charge” in mental health services, she said.
Mental Health Administrator Megan Kibler added that the new building will facilitate the services that ORW staff strives to provide.
She said allowing “creativity in programming” has already ensured women will have spaces to garden, learn to cook healthy meals and budget.
The ultimate goal, Kibler said, is to equip residents with the tools they need to be successful once they return to society outside of ORW.
“These women work hard daily to pursue the life they dream of,” she said.
Warden Teri Baldauf described the collaborative design process as “a labor of love.”
The RTU will provide mental health housing for 148 incarcerated individuals, as well as counseling and program areas.
The housing will provide four levels of treatment, ranging from the entry-level “Watch Unit” to the final phase before reintegration into the general population, the “Step-Down Unit.”
Residential areas will be divided into four units which vary from a 16-person capacity to 72-person capacity. Each unit will be configured differently to reflect the stage of treatment women are in at the time.
All housing will be on a single level, which will be supervised from three officer stations.
Storm said the “single space” will also foster community among the women living there and allow them to “focus on healing and wellness.”
Chambers-Smith said ODRC added funds to increase square footage in order to double-bunk a portion of the RTU, which will provide space for future growth.
The Treatment Center will provide outpatient counseling and group therapy for 1,110 patients. Storm noted that this number includes more than half of the women at ORW.
The facility will have a reception and waiting area for outpatient services, along with group rooms, interview rooms, 35 staff offices, a large conference room and a library.
Chambers-Smith said the project is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and WELL certified, which indicates the building is designed to improve health. She said it is anticipated to the be “the first building in the world” to receive both certifications.
The building will have natural lighting and numerous windows, as well as ionization and ultraviolet light in the HVAC system for sanitization of the air.
Women in the program will help to design the building’s landscaping, Chambers-Smith said. They will have multiple green spaces to take advantage of, including four courtyards and a larger outdoor activity space.
The Marguerite Reilly Building, which currently houses outpatient treatment offices, will be demolished while the former RTU will be converted to a housing unit.
Storm said she hopes the physical transformation of the buildings reflects “the change we see in the women we serve.”