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3/4/24 news article

milestone achieved in reinventing the path to children’s mental health

topping off begins countdown to new building opening

Today we celebrate another milestone in the quest to deliver the mental health services our kids need.

The 'topping off' ceremony for the behavioral health building at Dayton Children’s main campus closes a major phase of construction and starts the countdown to completion. Once open in summer 2025, the new 113,000 square foot, three-story space will co-locate all acute services in one space to seamlessly bridge the gap that can often occur from crisis to inpatient to outpatient care. It will provide all the services the family of a child in mental health crisis will need to get help and start healing.  

topping off with support

Traditionally, a topping off ceremony includes a beam lifted atop construction to signify the finishing of the structure of the building. It typically flies the American flag and sports a pine tree for good luck. This beam is also adorned with stickers signed by patients, families, staff and community leaders showing their commitment to serve the mental health needs of our children.

Check out the video to watch the process of 'topping off' unfold! 

beam for behavioral health building

watch here

To show their commitment to the kids who will be cared for in this space, many community members and staff added their name to the final beam. In January 2024, the final beam was placed on the building as part of the topping off ceremony. The addition of the evergreen tree on the beam is a traditional symbol of good luck.

evolving need

The expansion and convergence of services in this new space will serve the ever-evolving need for children’s mental health services. In the last year, Dayton Children’s saw:

  • 500 more psychiatry visits in January 2024 than January 2023
  • A rise in acuity - the intensity of children’s mental health needs is at levels that have not been seen previously.

That increased acuity requires more staff members to help the child. It can lead to higher rates of staff burnout and the potential for staff injury.  In the current inpatient unit, higher acuity also means blocking off several rooms for privacy and safety. There are then fewer rooms available for other children who need them.

"This new space will give us more resources to be nimble as our children's needs change," says Kelly Blankenship, DO, associate medical chief for mental and behavioral health. "We will have specialized spaces that allow kids with high acuity a private area, without blocking beds needed for other children."

innovation speeds construction

Speed is of the essence in this project. Danis Construction is moving with precision and innovation to complete the building swiftly.

For just the second time, they are using a massive weather-proof tent next to the construction site to complete multiple processes at once. This structure, called the Industrialized Construction Center (ICC), is nearly 10,000 square feet – roughly the size of two NBA basketball courts or 33 school buses!

"We have two assembly lines inside the tent, one exclusively for assembling exterior wall panels which are lifted immediately into place,” says Tyler Rabanus, senior project manager, Danis Construction, Inc. “The second assembly line is for internal elements such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire suppression. The tent allows us to build infrastructure before we would normally be able to get inside to do it, shaving roughly four months off the project.”

A computer plots much of the build down to fractions of an inch. Then they use a robot to lay out the work, making each connection as precise as possible.

Danis is also involving more of the community in this project for Dayton Children’s. They invited University of Dayton engineering students in to do a project on improving the efficiencies of work inside the tent.

“That is the great thing about Dayton,” says Debbie Feldman, president and CEO for Dayton Children’s. “We support each other. We find new ways to do things. We collaborate to take ideas to the next level. I thank all those who have supported and continue to support this endeavor for their tenacity and generosity. Together, we will reinvent the path to health for our children.”

Deborah Feldman

president and chief executive officer
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