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Cincinnati Children's breaks ground on inpatient mental health facility

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Posted at 7:33 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 07:34:16-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Children’s broke ground on a $99 million inpatient mental health facility in College Hill to address a regional and nationwide mental health crisis.

The five-story facility will replace the current inpatient building at the College Hill campus on Hamilton Avenue, and the 160,000 square-foot facility will be 68% larger than the current building. The new center, slated to open in late 2023, will include private rooms for all patients to allow families to spend more time there and stay overnight with their child.

In their announcement Friday, hospital leaders said children and adolescents face “unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and other mental and behavioral health conditions” exacerbated by the isolation and stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cincinnati Children's has a deep commitment to mental health and a great inpatient facility and residential facility, but we're now transforming that to make sure it's got all of the right services, all of the right privacy, and all of the right capabilities to continue providing the very best care,” Cincinnati Children’s president and CEO Michael Fisher said. “As we point to the future, as a community and society, we have to prioritize education, prevention, treatment, and even a cure for mental health disorders.”

Cincinnati Children’s officials said their commitment to research and treatment of youth mental health goes back more than two decades, and the medical center has one of the largest behavioral health care systems for children and adolescents in the country.

“One in every 10 children has a disability associated with or due to mental health issues. It's a tragedy that those needs don't get addressed. We want to make sure that we do not miss any of those kids,” said Michael Sorter, MD, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s. “The expansion is critical to what we want to do to improve our care, improve access to care and make sure we’re more inclusive to families.”

The new facility will host dedicated spaces for group therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy. The facility will also be the new home for expanded services for patients with neurodevelopment disorders.

“These transformational improvements allow us to build upon our foundation of safe, stable, and nurturing care and foster a therapeutic, engaging, and patient-centered environment for all,” said Lori Stark, PhD, director of the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s.

Tracy Glauser, MD, associate director of the Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation, said their goal is to help children navigate a mental health crisis quickly and stay out of the hospital.

“This building will make it much easier to implement a new holistic, innovative, multidisciplinary team approach to care,” Glauser said in the release.

The project will be funded by a $36 million gift from the Convalescent Hospital Fund for Children and approximately $27 million in Cincinnati Children’s operating revenues to cover about two-thirds of the total cost. The hospital is seeking the remaining $36 million from philanthropic supporters in the community.

“The Convalescent Hospital Fund for Children has a long history of supporting children who struggle with chronic illnesses, but who haven't always been served. We have supported children with mental health conditions and children with developmental challenges and brain injury,” said Susan Shelton, board chair for the Convalescent Hospital Fund for Children. “Through the work that we're doing together to raise the funds to build this building, we actually can make a difference. Treatment does make a difference for kids with mental illness. So, we all need to do this together.”

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