This article was written by Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters. It is sponsored by the Williamsburg Health Foundation as part of WHF’s focus on children’s mental health.
A new era in pediatric mental health care began at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters when the doors to the 14-story Children’s Pavilion opened to patients in Norfolk in 2022.
The building opened in phases, with outpatient mental health services beginning in April, and inpatient psychiatric beds opening in October.
Twenty-four of the 60 inpatient psychiatric private rooms are now open for patient care, with the remaining beds scheduled to open by mid-2023.
The facility is the hub of a coordinated continuum of mental health services, including prevention programs, research and training, acute inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, day treatment, and follow-up care.
The inpatient floors at Children’s Pavilion feature a rooftop recreation area with a basketball court, a grassy turf area, group therapy rooms, an indoor gym, a music therapy room and recording studio, an art therapy room, a family lounge, private nooks for reading, and more. Unique art pieces from local, national, and even international artists add to the healing elements throughout the building.
Other services, such as a primary pediatrics, sports medicine, laboratory and radiology services are also located in the building at 401 Gresham Drive to integrate mental health services with other routine services to de-stigmatize treatment of psychiatric conditions.
Once fully operational, Children’s Pavilion will admit about 2,500 children for inpatient mental health care every year, provide 48,000 outpatient therapy appointments annually, and add 400 new jobs to the Hampton Roads area.
Children’s Pavilion will have some features that set it apart from most children’s hospitals. It will have a specialized neurodevelopmental unit to care for children with autism or other developmental challenges, along with acute and chronic psychiatric illnesses, like bipolar disorder and depression.
Children’s Pavilion will also treat children who have co-existing medical and psychiatric conditions.
The opening of Children’s Pavilion marks a pivotal point in CHKD history. CHKD launched a mental health initiative in 2018 to answer the growing community concern about a lack of pediatric mental health services in the Hampton Roads region and across Virginia. Since then, CHKD has brought together esteemed clinicians, researchers, and academicians from across the country to change the way young people receive mental health care.
Since 2018, the mental health team at CHKD has grown from one full-time child and adolescent psychiatrist, who was part of a 30-member team, to its current 19 psychiatrists on a team of more than 200. That number is expected to double to 400 by the time all inpatient beds are open next year.
CHKD’s mental health program includes experts in the fields of child psychiatry and psychology, nurse practitioners and psychiatric nurses, clinical social workers, professional counselors, medical social workers, and mental health coaches and technicians. We strive to collaborate closely with primary care pediatricians, pediatric specialists, and caregivers on early identification of mental health vulnerabilities and to integrate care across our health system whenever possible.
At the same time CHKD was growing a larger mental health team, the need for child and adolescent mental health care also was increasing.
The pandemic brought new challenges to children, as some faced losing family members to COVID-19. Others encountered stress related to family financial woes and job loss, and many children suffered from long periods of isolation.
Families with children in need of mental health treatment can begin by contacting their child’s pediatrician. Currently, outpatient mental health services are offered at five CHKD facilities in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News (CHKD Health Center at Tech Center).
If at any point during this process, a child needs a more immediate evaluation, CHKD’s emergency department offers evaluation by a mental health therapist around-the-clock.
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