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DBHDS Press Releases

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2008
[ link to pdf ]

Eastern State Hospital "Hancock Center" Wins National Award

Richmond, VA – The newly-constructed Hancock Geriatric Treatment Center at Eastern State Hospital has been recognized by the National Council on Public-Private Partnerships (NCPPP) as an exemplary partnership that integrates best practices and innovative approaches. The Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS) and Gilbane Development Company received the NCPPP’s Innovation Award for their unique collaboration in delivering the new Hancock Center, which opened its doors to 150 patients last spring, under Virginia’s Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA).

In developing the center, Gilbane Development Company and its design partner Clark Nexsen Architecture + Engineering worked with DMHMRSAS and Eastern State Hospital staff and patients to determine what design would best solve the needs of their patients.

“The tremendous team effort to design the new Hancock Center shows a real commitment to high quality results and to the needs of the individuals with mental illness who receive treatment there,” said DMHMRSAS Commissioner James Reinhard, M.D. “By working together, we have created a nurturing environment that emphasizes recovery and facilitates patients’ transfer back to their communities.”

Hospital staff, including the nursing team, and local community services boards worked closely with the development team in a partnering environment to address concerns and meet goals. As a result, patient needs were translated into the design of the new facility.

“It has been a privilege to partner with DMHMRSAS in the transformation of Eastern State Hospital,” said Gilbane Development Company Vice President John D. Keegan, P.E. “We’re inspired by Eastern State Hospital’s mission and grateful for the active collaboration of hospital leadership and clinical staff in creating a therapeutic and efficient environment within the new Hancock Center that will benefit patients and staff alike.”

The final design accommodated the special needs of the geriatric patients by incorporating age-appropriate activity, visual cues, acoustics and personal space. A rehabilitation and activity area, designed to replicate a small town Main Street, reflects a new national standard in evidence-based practices. Outside courtyards were designed by the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies - Landscape Design program and installed by Gilbane to create safe “wander gardens” with four seasons of color. Also, the new, highly-efficient facility is expected to pay for itself in lower maintenance costs. All furniture, fixtures and equipment were included in the cost of the $28 million, 150-bed center.

The Hancock Center was one of three innovation awards from locations across the country recognized by the NCPPP for new approaches in the use of public-private partnerships. Awards will be presented November 20 at the NCPPP’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. The NCPPP is a non-profit educational institute with membership from both public and private sectors that promotes the use of public-private partnerships and best practices. Information about the council can be found at

The new Hancock Center marks the completion of the first phase to renovate the majority of Eastern State Hospital. Scheduled for completion in 2010, phase two includes the replacement of the adult mental health treatment center and consolidating several treatment programs into one building. Phase three will consolidate support services. ESH is one of seven state-run psychiatric hospitals operated by DMHRMSAS. Admitting patients in 1773, ESH is the first public facility in the United State built solely for the care and treatment of individuals with mental illness.

For more information about ESH, please visit For more information about Gilbane Development Company, please visit


DMHMRSAS – Available to citizens statewide, Virginia’s public Behavioral Health and Developmental services system is comprised of 40 community services boards (CSBs) and 16 state facilities. DMHMRSAS seeks to promote dignity, choice, recovery, and the highest possible level of participation in work, relationships, and all aspects of community life for these individuals with mental health, mental retardation or substance abuse disorders.

GILBANE – Gilbane Development Company is the project development, financing and ownership arm of Gilbane, Inc. Developing a wide range of projects for both institutional and corporate clients, Gilbane Development Company integrates the myriad components of the project delivery and ownership structure and guarantees the results. It utilizes its experience in strategic planning, finance, alternative transaction structures, tax and project management to provide customer-focused solutions that reduce costs and maximize value. Completed projects represent every aspect of real estate development, including: residential communities, mixed-used developments, garage/parking areas, corporate headquarters, operational | data | distribution centers, R&D | manufacturing facilities, residential communities, healthcare facilities, schools, and other public facilities.

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