Missouri Psychiatric Center opens new outdoor center for patients

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COLUMBIA - MU Health Care unveiled a new therapeutic, outdoor activity center for patients Tuesday.

The area has a playground, basketball court, swings and an adult exercise set.

Officials said it was designed to be a sensory experience — with different colors, sounds, textures and smells.

"At MU Health Care, we treat the whole person," Mary Beck, MU Health Care's chief nursing officer, said in a press release. "Our patients deserve a beautiful, inclusive place to get fresh air, move their bodies and help them heal. This space has been renovated with that in mind."

The center has 61 beds for adults, kids and teenagers.

"The safety of our patients is our top priority," Beck said. "All of the equipment and surfacing — even down to the non-toxic landscaping — have been selected so patients of all ages and abilities can enjoy the space."

Construction started in the spring after three months of planning.

Beth Orns, patient and family support services manager at the center, said the site was previously covered in sand and made conditions undesirable for patients by attracting bugs.

"It just wasn't a very useful space, but it was big and huge and wonderful and so we started to dream," Orns said. "We dreamed as big as we possibly could."

Orns, whose 11-year-old son has autism and attended the center in the past, said the new area will help patients during recovery.

"This is a space that when he's an adult, he can come and still be served," she said. "And that will help him to heal, and that will help countless other patients to heal too."