Children's Hospital Launches Public Fundraising Campaign for Mental Health Facility

Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters gives media first glimpse of inpatient room, rooftop gym, and outpatient services

Norfolk, Va, June 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CHKD launched a public fundraising campaign today for the health system’s new mental health hospital and outpatient center designed to transform pediatric mental health treatment in Hampton Roads and across the Commonwealth.

The announcement of a $60 million “Lighting the Way” fundraising goal included a media preview tour of the $224 million facility under construction on the same campus as CHKD’s main hospital. The tour gave the first public glimpse of an inpatient room, a rooftop recreational area, and therapeutic settings designed to offer family-centered mental health treatment to children.

In a testament to the urgency of the pediatric mental health crisis, visionary philanthropists who recognize the significance of our community’s need for pediatric mental health services have already contributed $50 million toward the goal.

CHKD is now reaching out to the community to raise an additional $10 million. “Philanthropy is critical to delivering on this promise of transforming mental health services for the children of our region,” said John Lawson II, chair of CHKD’s Lighting the Way Campaign for Mental Health. “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received thus far, but our children need all of us to join together to make sure they no longer suffer in silence or go without treatment for their mental health needs. Our children are in crisis, and together, we can change their lives,” he continued.

The need is indisputable when you consider these statistics: One out of every five children has a mental health condition. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24. As many as 10 children a day have come to CHKD’s emergency department in dire need of mental health care.

“For too long, children with mental health concerns have been waiting in their homes, their schools and our emergency rooms for treatment,” says Jim Dahling, president and CEO of CHKD Health System. “This crisis has been building for years, and the recent pandemic has made the need even more profound.”

The centerpiece of CHKD’s mental health initiative is the 14-story facility on Gresham Drive. The new hospital will have 60 private rooms with space for parents to spend the night, healing amenities like music and art rooms, and a rooftop area where hospitalized children can get exercise and fresh air. The new hospital will also be the hub of a regional mental health outpatient program, with a continuum of care from early intervention to outpatient care to more intensive treatment.

The facility will also be home to other medical services, such as a primary care pediatric practice and a sports medicine program. The goal is a setting that normalizes mental health care within a matrix of treatment for everything from broken bones to broken spirits, and from immunizations to intensive therapy.

Construction of the facility began in 2019, and combines the best aspects of pediatric psychiatric centers across the country to provide family-centered care, academic training programs, and clinical research to guide innovation. Mental health services will start in August of 2022, with inpatient beds phased in over several months.

As the building progresses, so does growth of the team that will provide the care. In 2018, CHKD had one full-time child and adolescent psychiatrist who was part of a 30-member mental health team. That number has grown to 10 psychiatrists on a team of nearly 80, which also includes nurse practitioners, psychologists, therapists and medical social workers. By the time the building opens next year, more than 400 clinicians and support staff will be working full time within CHKD’s inpatient and outpatient mental health program in the new facility.

The growth comes at a critical societal juncture of a worldwide pandemic and a social justice movement that has more families bending under the stress of financial, emotional, health, and equity issues.

In fiscal year 2015, the CHKD mental health program tallied a total of 3,566 mental health encounters, which include both inpatient and outpatient consultations and treatment visits. Since then, we have seen a dramatic upsurge. In fiscal year 2021, we’re projecting a total of just over 25,000 encounters, which amounts to a 600 percent increase.

“While the pandemic has certainly exacerbated some children’s mental health problems, the pediatric mental health crisis has been building for years,” said Dr. Carl Petersen, chief of psychiatry and mental health services at CHKD. “This new facility has been designed to offer the best, evidence-based treatment in a safe and uplifting environment.”

By 2025, CHKD expects to provide 40,000 outpatient visits for mental health conditions annually, with 2,500 children receiving intensive, around-the-clock inpatient care.

“It is going to take all of us working together to make this vision a reality,” says Lawson. “Every gift will help. And there is nothing we can do for our children and our community that is more important.”

CHKD would like to express its deep gratitude to the following individuals, foundations, and organizations that provided critical early support to CHKD’s mental health initiative at the $1 million level or greater:

Kenneth A. and Patricia A. Hall Charitable Foundation, The Landmark Foundation, Kay Abiouness, Children's Specialty Group, PLLC, Ferguson Enterprises, Hampton Roads Community Foundation, The King's Daughters, Langley Federal Credit Union/Langley for Families Foundation, John and Paige Lawson, Mid Atlantic Dairy Queen, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Oh Family and Obermeyer Family, Jim Squires and Karen Jones Squires, TowneBank Foundation, W.M. Jordan Company, Katherine and John Wynne Family Fund, and Susan S. and John O.  Wynne.