Dayton Children’s unveils behavioral health inpatient unit
unique features, innovative technology keep kids safe, calm while stabilizing crisis
Dayton Children’s Hospital unveils the first inpatient behavioral health unit in its 50 year history as a free-standing, independent children’s hospital. The goal of this unit is to stabilize a child in crisis in a safe, comfortable and supportive environment then connect that child to ongoing outpatient therapy. The healing process begins on the unit through a combination of traditional talk therapy, art, music and movement therapy as well as the unique use of an interactive media board.
Dayton Children’s is the first pediatric hospital in North America to integrate these media boards created by Recornect, a Netherlands-based company. Like a giant iPad or computer tablet embedded in the wall of each bedroom and relaxation room, the child or teen can use it to see their schedule, view their treatment plan, play games, complete puzzles, draw or access relaxing images or music. They are perfectly suited to behavioral health units as they are virtually indestructible. They also allow teens to connect in a way that they are already comfortable and familiar with.
“Our teens and adolescents are digital natives. Technology is like air to them – they live it and breathe it,” says Kelly Blankship, DO, behavioral health inpatient manager at Dayton Children’s. “These boards allow us a way to connect with them on a whole new level and give them tools and techniques to be good digitial citizens – truly an innovative use of technology to better serve our children.”
The community is in desperate need of pediatric-focused behavioral health services for children ages 11-17 years old in need of a short inpatient stay to stabilize a mental or behavioral crisis, such as a suicide attempt. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for kids ages 10 and older.
“This is one of the most challenging health issues of our time and we are dedicated to facing it head on,” says Deborah Feldman, president and CEO for Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Our mission is the optimal health for every child within our reach and we know a child cannot achieve that without attention to their mental health. This is what drives us every year to expand our services for children facing mental and behavioral health issues.”
The 24- bed unit will begin accepting patients on July 9, 2019 and the average expected length of stay will be four days. It was designed with safety as the highest priority. Each child will have a private bedroom and bathroom. Every feature and fixture was thoughtfully selected to be safe for a child in crisis who may try to harm themselves, yet not feel institutional. The ceilings, door knobs and bathroom fixtures are ligature resistant. The walls and ceilings are thicker than average walls and ceilings. The windows are impact resistant with integrated blinds, allowing privacy without the danger of cords and slats. The furniture is either extremely heavy or extremely light, to prevent throwing or reduce injury if it is thrown.
The construction of a unit so customized to the unique needs of a pediatric behavioral health patient would not have been possible with out the dedication to detail of the mental health staff at Dayton Children’s, Danis Construction and Champlin Architecture. These groups worked in collaboration to ensure the attention to detail that Dayton Children’s is known for was evident in every inch of space.
As always the Dayton community showed how invested it is in the health of children by generously supporting this project. To date, the community has graciously contributed nearly $7.4 million in donations to help support this unit and mental health initiatives. That includes the record breaking amount of $927,914 raised at Cha-Cha, the bi-annual gala hosted by Dayton Children’s auxiliary, the Women’s Board. Another Dayton Children’s auxiliary, Terrific Women in Giving (TWIGS) has also pledged $1.2 million to support mental health initiatives.
“Philanthropy has been instrumental to enabling the hospital to respond to the growing mental health crisis facing our children and ensuring children have access to services here in their own community,” says Jena Pado, CFRE, executive director of the Dayton Children’s Foundation. “We thank everyone who made a gift to support the support and hope that children in crisis can find here at Dayton Children’s.”