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5/8/23 news article

Dayton Children’s breaks ground on new behavioral health building

New facility will help to bridge gap in much-needed children’s mental health services

Dayton Children's behavioral health building rendering

Today, Dayton Children’s Hospital celebrated breaking ground on a new, freestanding behavioral health building that will help meet the increased need for behavioral health services in our region. Governor Mike DeWine and other local community leaders were in attendance at this morning’s event where Dayton Children’s showcased renderings of the new facility and highlighted the unprecedented demand for services and access to behavioral health services for our community’s children and teens.

The building was first announced in May 2022 when Governor DeWine and state legislators announced a $25 million allocation through American Rescue Plan funds towards the construction of the facility.

speakers at Dayton Children's behavioral health groundbreaking

The youth mental health crisis has been growing rapidly over the last decade and was only exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dayton Children’s opened a mental and behavioral health inpatient unit in July 2019, and those 24 beds almost immediately filled and have remained at or near capacity ever since.

“We’ve been working for eleven years now, adding services, plugging holes. And still, there are gaps,” said Debbie Feldman, president and CEO of Dayton Children’s. “The services that we will be able to provide in this building, along with additional community-based therapy services will go a long way to help bridge those gaps.”

Even with the current programs and services in place, it’s clear more needs to be done to support our children:

  • In the past year, Dayton Children’s saw more than 7,000 kids in crisis.
  • On average, it takes five weeks for a child to get in to see a therapist.
  • In March 2023, Dayton Children’s had 211 kids who had to be boarded on medical floors because there was no behavioral health bed available nearby.
  • This is the highest number of children the hospital has had to board in one month – 31% higher than March of last year. 
  • One in twelve kids who do end up in Dayton Children’s behavioral health unit will return within 30 days.
over the shoulder look at Dayton Children's behavioral health building

The construction of Dayton Children’s new behavioral health building will help to bridge the gap between the inpatient services provided by the hospital and community-wide initiatives designed to support patients after they are discharged.

The new building, set to open in spring 2025, will allow the hospital to: 

  • Double the number of behavioral health inpatient beds currently available at Dayton Children’s
  • Allow expansion for specialized program development
  • Allow for strengthened and smoother continuity of care by bringing behavioral health inpatient, outpatient and crisis services all under one roof
  • Provide customized outdoor space that is critical to healing
  • Create operational efficiencies and improved communication through cross-trained staff, proximity and access.

“Breaking ground on the new behavioral health building is a critical step in improving our behavioral health care in Ohio. Our vision is for Ohioans to be able to access the level of care they need where and when they need it,” said Governor DeWine. “We will continue to focus on expanding accessibility, growing our capacity, and encouraging much-need research and innovation to improve behavioral health care for all Ohioans.”

behavioral health groundbreaking

Deborah Feldman

president and chief executive officer
view full bio

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