New facility offers inpatient mental health care for children


NORFOLK, Va. – In 2018, there was only one child psychiatrist at the King’s Daughters Children’s Hospital.

Now, 19 pediatric psychiatrists are already working at CHKD’s new $224 million children’s ward as part of a staff of 400 that provides outpatient care and will begin providing mental health care to inpatients. Several other pediatric psychiatrists should be hired.

Since April, it has been open for outpatient mental health therapy, primary care and a sports medicine clinic, laboratory and radiology department, according to CHKD documents. Construction began in 2019 and the installation was completed on schedule.

“We broke new ground with the urgency to fight the waves of fear, anxiety and depression that were sending our children to the emergency room,” CHKD President and CEO Jim Dahling said at a celebratory ceremony. official inauguration.

The first 12 inpatient beds are opening this month and the remaining 48 beds will be in service by the middle of next year, according to Dahling.

The facility was in need before the pandemic, but has clearly proven the consequences of isolation as ‘everything rooted in childhood’ was closed or reduced, such as school, sports and other gatherings important social issues, he said.

It is estimated that up to one in five children suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and last year US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on the worsening children’s mental health crisis during the pandemic.

According to Dr. Carl Petersen, CHKD’s head of mental health services, a dozen or more children present to CHKD’s emergency department on multiple days with mental health issues.

He said the facility would not be limited to inpatient care, but would provide ‘robust’ outpatient care including personalized schedules to ensure children can get help whenever they have time, even after School days. It will offer acute hospitalization and partial hospitalization programs, according to CHKD documents.

Former Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist practicing with CHKD, said he receives calls from parents about children in mental health crisis. He said he told the parents to take their child to the emergency room. Northam said there was always care for children after a tragic incident like a car accident or a stroke, but a facility like CHKD’s new children’s ward was lacking and there was always a lack of pediatric psychiatrists to follow children after a crisis.

“So why should there be this contrast between our approach to mental health and other medical conditions?” he said.

Nearly a decade ago, the son of state senator Creigh Deeds had a mental health crisis – stabbing his father and later killing himself. The day before, Gus Deeds had been released while he was under psychiatric supervision because no bed was available, according to the media.

Creigh Deeds said that in the years since, he has learned about the stigma and challenges Americans and Virginians face in seeking mental health care and has sought to find solutions. The grand opening of CHKD’s new facility marked a beginning, not an end, he said.

“There will be a continued need for this facility,” Deeds said. “Mental illnesses are complicated and difficult conditions that affect people in different ways.

On the ground floor, the entrance to the treatment areas has a “discreet” elevator near the lobby and the first floor also has a security screening area for families visiting hospital patients, according to the documents. of the CHKD. At the top of the 14-story building, there is an outdoor recreation area with a grass area, basketball court, four-square court, and giant puzzle games.

The 13th floor will include 12 of the 60 inpatient rooms, music therapy and art therapy rooms, and an indoor gym. The inpatient floors include the 11th, 12th and 13th floors, which will include a family lounge, sensory rooms, group therapy, dining rooms and gathering spaces. The 10th floor is an additional space where up to 24 additional beds can be added as needed, according to CHKD documents.

John Littel, Secretary of State for Health and Human Resources, praised the building, but said the staff and care children receive there, and research into the growing mental health issues facing faced by today’s children, will ultimately make the children’s pavilion vital.

“The care the children will receive here as well as the ongoing research will really help meet the needs, not just here in Norfolk, not just here in Virginia, but across the country,” Littel said.

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