ORANGE, Calif., May 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Community leaders and executives from Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children's) today announced a transformational initiative to ensure children, adolescents and young adults with mental illness get the health care services and support they currently lack in Orange County's fragmented system of care.
One in five children experience a diagnosable mental health condition during childhood — about 150,000 children in Orange County alone; yet there are no psychiatric inpatient beds for patients younger than 12 and insufficient psychiatric inpatient beds for adolescents in Orange County hospitals. The absence of designated space to treat young patients means that sometimes children with serious mental health episodes remain in the emergency department for days at a time.
"We recognize that pediatric mental illness has become a nationwide crisis, and are committed to addressing it," CHOC Children's President and CEO Kimberly Chavalas Cripe said. "CHOC and our partners are excited by the opportunity to create a scalable model for pediatric mental health care that other communities across the country can replicate."
Children's advocate Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, managing partner, C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, has donated a $5 million lead gift to help establish CHOC Children's Mental Health Inpatient Center. The Center will provide a safe, nurturing place for children ages 3 to 18 to receive care for mental health conditions. It will also provide specialty programming for children younger than 12. The third floor of CHOC's Research Building, located on the west side of the hospital's main campus, will be extensively remodeled to house 18 beds in a secured, healing environment, and create an outdoor area for recreation. Construction is expected to begin by fall 2015 and finish in late 2017.
"Sandy Segerstrom Daniels' inspiring and generous gift will improve the lives of children battling mental illness and their families by providing the services and support they need," Cripe said.
Daniels' gift serves as the cornerstone of a broader fundraising campaign by CHOC to raise $11 million for inpatient capital and startup costs, and $16 million to endow the program.
CHOC Children's and Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, co-founders of Saddleback Church, formed a task force last fall. Led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Maria Minon and Chief Psychologist Dr. Heather Huszti, and comprised of community leaders, educators and faith-based advisors, the task force is focused on creating a full system of care for children, adolescents and young adults with mental illness. CHOC Children's and their partners are raising additional funds for enhanced outpatient mental health services in support of the full pediatric system of care.
Along with the new center, the hospital and its task force will work vigorously to educate and bring awareness of the prevalence of pediatric mental health problems, and the importance of early intervention and treatment.
"We want to promote honest dialog about children suffering from mental illness, helping to remove the social stigma. By inspiring others to share their stories, we hope to help them to heal and help others on their paths toward recovery and healing," said Cripe.
"We know our plans are ambitious, but they are critical and life-saving. The vision begins with establishing a caring home at CHOC Children's for children and their families to turn to for help," Cripe added.
To learn more about ways to give to CHOC Children's mental health campaign, call the CHOC Children's Foundation at 714-509-8690 or visit www.choc.org/mentalhealthgiving.
About CHOC Children's
Named one of the best children's hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2014-2015) and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital for the highest quality of care, Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children's) is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC's regional health care network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, many primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four clinical centers of excellence - the CHOC Children's Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.
CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children's hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence. Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Beacon Award for Pediatric Critical Care Excellence. www.choc.org
Denise Almazan, CHOC Children's
Andrea Hanigan, CHOC Children's
SOURCE Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC)