LifeBridge Health will merge the medical system’s victims services resources with violence prevention, domestic and elder abuse programs under a single roof in North Baltimore to provide patients with a secure and uplifting space to heal.
Dubbed the Center for Hope, the proposed Park Heights facility will contain clinic and therapy rooms, art and play space and a conference center, as well as specialized space for Child Abuse Center staff to conduct forensic interviews and for law enforcement to collaborate on cases and conduct witness interviews. Developers will build the center adjacent to Pimlico Race Course in what is now a LifeBridge employee parking lot, a team of designers and architects told Baltimore’s Urban Development and Architecture Advisory Panel during a Thursday meeting.
LifeBridge, which oversees Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital and Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, incorporated the Baltimore Child Abuse Center as a wholly owned subsidiary early last year.
Adam Rosenberg, executive director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, said the new facility will provide a coordinated, “one-stop shop” for victims, law enforcement, medical professionals, advocates and social workers. Enhancing the speed and efficiency of service helps prevent further traumatizing victims in vulnerable situations, he said.
“Baltimore needs a lot of hope right now, and we’re here to work with them to help each community member find that hope again,” Rosenberg said. “We’re not giving them hope — we’re working with them to find the hope within themselves.”
The center comes with a price tag of about $12 million, Rosenberg said, about $6 million of which officials hope to fund through public capital campaigns. Close to $2 million already has been secured.
The Baltimore Child Abuse Center currently operates out of a former Goucher College dormitory in downtown Baltimore. Moving to Park Heights will provide the center with a more neighborhood-style feel, Rosenberg said, and place the facility in closer proximity to where most of the organization’s clients live.
“It made sense to focus services in that area,” said Rosenberg, adding that many children it serves happen to be from the 21215 area, which does not necessarily mean that kids in that area suffer more abuse than anywhere else in Baltimore. “When the opportunity arose to relocate there, it made sense to not only provide citywide services but also services for those specific neighborhoods and communities that had a greater amount of need.”
Scott Robison, principal architect with Hord Coplan Macht, said the team hopes to incorporate themes of hope, healing and resiliency in the center with large windows, thoughtful colors and enclosed, outdoor spaces for “therapeutic play.” The center will house medical education services as well as administrative offices, community resources and a crisis response team, he said.
“We want to provide healing and hope for the survivor the moment they arrive,” Robison said. “The designs help facilitate healing.”
Robison said the team looked at studies of “trustworthy” colors as well as those that can be engaging and inviting for children as well as adults. The team used other existing victim advocacy centers for design inspiration, including one in Chicago.
The team will incorporate a tree canopy as well as flowers, perennials and shrubs to create “a friendly face,” said Patrick Whealton, an associate landscape architect at Hord Coplan Macht. The spacious windows will provide the building’s interior with plenty of natural sunlight, another potential source of comfort for victims.
The center will not house overnight facilities or inpatient services.
Rosenberg said the 32,000-square-foot center could be operational by March 2022. So far, the coronavirus pandemic has not disrupted the center’s opening timeline, he said.