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Expanded behavioral health services planned at Akron Children’s Hospital in Mahoning Valley

09-18-2019 (Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

Akron Children’s Hospital is expanding its behavioral health services in the Mahoning Valley by the end of this year, and creating a new space on its campus for the programs.

The $2.3 million project, which will help address the growing need for behavioral health services for children and teens, will allow Akron Children’s to double the number of patient visits in the Youngstown area within the first year.

Dr. Steven Jewell, the Lois C. Orr Endowed Chair of the Division of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology for Akron Children’s Hospital, said 20% of youths deal with a mental illness severe enough to affect their daily lives, but only 20% of them get the help they need.

“That is a sobering number, as it means that there are a significant number of adolescents with unrecognized mental illness who are going untreated and becoming increasingly at risk not only for future problems but also for the other issues associated with untreated mental illness, such as addiction and suicide,” Jewell said. “As a result, the need for behavioral health services for youth exceeds the capacity of available services in every county in Ohio, and that is no different in the Mahoning Valley.”

To expand, the hospital has acquired and begun to renovate the former Youngstown Hearing and Speech building on Southern Boulevard, which is on its Boardman campus. The building, when completed, will feature nine individual therapy rooms, an assessment room, group therapy spaces and separate office workspace for staff. The project is expected to be completed and ready for patients Dec. 10.

In addition to individual mental health therapy and psychiatry services, the new site will allow the hospital to establish its Partial Hospitalization Program here for adolescents and teens in need of more intense outpatient treatment. The program will begin Jan. 7. Akron Children’s provides the same program on its Akron campus.

The building will include features unique to it, such as a “decompression zone” in an alcove where patients in need of a break can retreat. Also included in the renovation is the use of ligature mitigated hardware, to prevent self-harm, and emergency buttons in each room in case a staff member needs assistance. The hospital’s Public Safety department will also have a presence for added security.

Behavioral health services are currently offered in Building C at the hospital, located at 6505 Market St. The expanded service will result in about a dozen new jobs at the hospital, for which recruiting has begun.

Charitable support is integral to the expansion of these services. Akron Children’s has received gifts from the James and Coralie Centofanti Charitable Foundation, Peg’s Foundation, Hine Memorial Fund and Kikel Charitable Foundation.