Cincinnati Children’s Breaks Ground on New Behavioral Health Facility

Multimillion-dollar investment to help kids in crisis

Friday, May 07, 2021

As the mental health crisis continues to grow in the region and across the nation, Cincinnati Children’s is addressing the need for a continuum of care to improve outcomes with the groundbreaking for a new $99 million inpatient mental health facility in College Hill.

Children and adolescents are struggling with unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and other mental and behavioral health conditions. Mental illness is one of the most pressing health issues of our time, and it has been exacerbated with the isolation and the stressors associated with COVID.

“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,” said Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s. “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 commitment to research and treatment of child and teen mental health goes back more than two decades, and the medical center has one of the largest behavioral healthcare systems for children and adolescents in the country. But the community still faces an uphill battle.

“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 five-story facility will replace the current inpatient building on the College Hill campus. Encompassing 160,000 square feet, the state-of-the-art facility will be 68% larger than the current one. The new building will include private rooms for all inpatients. That will enable families to spend more time on the units and even stay overnight with their child.

“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.

There will be 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. College Hill is part of a mental health system of care that seeks to identify and prevent more severe diseases.

“This building will make it much easier to implement a new holistic, innovative, multidisciplinary team approach to care,” said Tracy Glauser, MD, associate director of the Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation. “Our goal is to help kids navigate a mental health crisis more quickly, transition, and stay out of the hospital.”

The expansion is made possible through a $36 million gift from the Convalescent Hospital Fund for Children, which covers about one-third of the cost. Cincinnati Children’s operating revenues will cover another third of the project costs. An additional $36 million is still needed 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.”

The new building is scheduled to open in late 2023. Cincinnati Children's College Hill Campus is located at 5642 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45224. To support fundraising efforts for the new facility, visit the College Hill Mental Health Campaign.

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Jennifer Tan