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CHKD News Releases

View our archive of past news releases. Media inquiries can be made by calling (757) 475-8839.

Recent News Releases and Stories

Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Earley at (757) 668-9049 or Elizabeth.Earley@CHKD.org

CHKD Opens Two New Facilities in Harbour View

Specialty care, therapy services, lab and radiology services with one-stop convenience

SUFFOLK, Va. – CHKD is pleased to announce the opening of CHKD Health Center at Harbour View and CHKD Sports Medicine & Therapy Services the first week of July, which will provide pediatric specialty services, sports medicine physical therapy, along with other therapy services at one convenient location in Suffolk.

The new centers consolidate services from several other CHKD locations in Suffolk and also expand services to include sports medicine physical therapy and ultrasound.

The CHKD Health Center at Harbour View, located at 5834 Harbour View Boulevard, will have adolescent medicine, asthma, cardiology, dermatology, developmental pediatrics, gastroenterology and hepatology, Healthy You for Life weight management program, nephrology, pediatric and adolescent gynecology services, physical medicine and rehabilitation, laboratory and radiology services.

The CHKD Sports Medicine and Therapy Services at the adjacent 5832 Harbour View Boulevard will offer sports medicine physical therapy, rehabilitative physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

“Families in Suffolk shouldn’t have to travel great lengths in order to regularly take their children to the doctor,” said Suffolk Mayor Michael Duman. “The new centralized CHKD Health Center at Harbour View will conveniently help our young residents receive the treatment they deserve for their health care needs.”

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CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. In 2019, CHKD broke ground on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center on its campus to address the mental health crisis facing our youth. The new tower being built on CHKD’s campus in Norfolk is scheduled to open in 2022.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Earley at (757) 668-9049 or Elizabeth.Earley@CHKD.org

CHKD Launches Public Fundraising Campaign For Mental Health Hospital

NORFOLK, Va. – CHKD launched a public fundraising campaign today for the health system’s new mental health hospital and outpatient center designed to transform pediatric mental health treatment in Hampton Roads and across the Commonwealth.

The announcement of a $60 million “Lighting the Way” fundraising goal included a media preview tour of the $224 million facility under construction on the same campus as CHKD’s main hospital. The tour gave the first public glimpse of an inpatient room, a rooftop recreational area, and therapeutic settings designed to offer family-centered mental health treatment to children.

In a testament to the urgency of the pediatric mental health crisis, visionary philanthropists who recognize the significance of our community’s need for pediatric mental health services have already contributed $50 million toward the goal.

CHKD is now reaching out to the community to raise an additional $10 million. “Philanthropy is critical to delivering on this promise of transforming mental health services for the children of our region,” said John Lawson II, chair of CHKD’s Lighting the Way Campaign for Mental Health. “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received thus far, but our children need all of us to join together to make sure they no longer suffer in silence or go without treatment for their mental health needs. Our children are in crisis, and together, we can change their lives,” he continued.

The need is indisputable when you consider these statistics: One out of every five children has a mental health condition. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24. As many as 10 children a day have come to CHKD’s emergency department in dire need of mental health care.

“For too long, children with mental health concerns have been waiting in their homes, their schools and our emergency rooms for treatment,” says Jim Dahling, president and CEO of CHKD Health System. “This crisis has been building for years, and the recent pandemic has made the need even more profound.”

The centerpiece of CHKD’s mental health initiative is the 14-story facility on Gresham Drive. The new hospital will have 60 private rooms with space for parents to spend the night, healing amenities like music and art rooms, and a rooftop area where hospitalized children can get exercise and fresh air. The new hospital will also be the hub of a regional mental health outpatient program, with a continuum of care from early intervention to outpatient care to more intensive treatment.

The facility will also be home to other medical services, such as a primary care pediatric practice and a sports medicine program. The goal is a setting that normalizes mental health care within a matrix of treatment for everything from broken bones to broken spirits, and from immunizations to intensive therapy.

Construction of the facility began in 2019, and combines the best aspects of pediatric psychiatric centers across the country to provide family-centered care, academic training programs, and clinical research to guide innovation. Mental health services will start in August of 2022, with inpatient beds phased in over several months.

As the building progresses, so does growth of the team that will provide the care. In 2018, CHKD had one full-time child and adolescent psychiatrist who was part of a 30-member mental health team. That number has grown to 10 psychiatrists on a team of nearly 80, which also includes nurse practitioners, psychologists, therapists and medical social workers. By the time the building opens next year, more than 400 clinicians and support staff will be working full time within CHKD’s inpatient and outpatient mental health program in the new facility.

The growth comes at a critical societal juncture of a worldwide pandemic and a social justice movement that has more families bending under the stress of financial, emotional, health, and equity issues.

In fiscal year 2015, the CHKD mental health program tallied a total of 3,566 mental health encounters, which include both inpatient and outpatient consultations and treatment visits. Since then, we have seen a dramatic upsurge. In fiscal year 2021, we’re projecting a total of just over 25,000 encounters, which amounts to a 600 percent increase.

“While the pandemic has certainly exacerbated some children’s mental health problems, the pediatric mental health crisis has been building for years,” said Dr. Carl Petersen, chief of psychiatry and mental health services at CHKD. “This new facility has been designed to offer the best, evidence-based treatment in a safe and uplifting environment.”

By 2025, CHKD expects to provide 40,000 patient visits for mental health conditions annually, with 2,500 children receiving intensive, around-the-clock inpatient care.

“It is going to take all of us working together to make this vision a reality,” says Lawson. “Every gift will help. And there is nothing we can do for our children and our community that is more important.”

CHKD would like to express its deep gratitude to the following individuals, foundations, and organizations that provided critical early support to CHKD’s mental health initiative at the $1 million level or greater:

Kenneth A. and Patricia A. Hall Charitable Foundation, The Landmark Foundation, Kay Abiouness, Children's Specialty Group, PLLC, Ferguson Enterprises, Hampton Roads Community Foundation, The King's Daughters, Langley Federal Credit Union/Langley for Families Foundation, John and Paige Lawson, Mid Atlantic Dairy Queen, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Oh Family and Obermeyer Family, Jim Squires and Karen Jones Squires, TowneBank Foundation, W.M. Jordan Company, Katherine and John Wynne Family Fund, and Susan S. and John O. Wynne.

For more information or to make a donation, visit our Lighting the Way Campaign website. Media can find videos, photographs, and charts online at this Media Toolkit link.

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CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. In 2019, CHKD broke ground on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center on its campus to address the mental health crisis facing our youth. The new tower being built on CHKD’s campus in Norfolk is scheduled to open in 2022.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Earley: Elizabeth.Earley@CHKD.org or (757) 668-9049

CHKD's NICU First in Virginia to Launch Reach Out and Read Program

Building brains of babies with books

NORFOLK, Va. – Reading aloud is good for the brain and the heart, and even the tiniest babies in CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit can absorb those benefits as CHKD becomes the first NICU in the state to launch a Reach Out and Read site.

Reach Out and Read is a national program in which doctors and nurse practitioners give a “prescription to read” to patients and their caregivers, in the form of age-appropriate books. CHKD Medical Group practices have been giving them to children 6 months to 5 years of age at their well-child visits for more than 20 years.

Now our youngest patients are joining the reading circle. Several years ago, the Reach Out and Read program gave sites the option to expand to children younger than 6 months, a nod to studies showing neurological benefits of the spoken word. CHKD joins a dozen NICUs across the country in the program that encourages parents and caregivers to read, talk, and sing to their newborns.

Besides encouraging brain and language development, reading aloud allows families to bond with their babies, which is especially important when they begin life in a NICU. Our CHKD staff and “volunteer cuddlers” also are encouraged to read to the infants when the parents aren’t there to give babies meaningful auditory exposure.

"Early language exposure is so important for speech and cognitive development, especially for infants born preterm,” said Dr. Rebecca Dorner, a neonatologist and medical consultant for the Reach Out and Read program at CHKD. “Reading is the perfect way to bring that language to the bedside."

During the past five months, CHKD’s neonatologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, child life specialists, and case managers have gone through Reach Out and Read training, which led the national organization to declare the NICU an official site in March.

Babies get a new book, “Welcome Little One,” at admission, and additional books each month they spend in the NICU. They are sent off with “If I Could Keep You Little” when they are discharged. Healthcare providers also discuss with parents and family members the brain-building power of shared reading and offer guidance in making reading a part of daily life to promote social, emotional, and neurological health.

Charlie McCarthy of Chesapeake is one of the early recipients of the board books, which are available in English and Spanish. He came to the NICU in February when he was just four days old, after being born two months early. His parents started reading to him when he just a few days old and still in his isolette. Luke Jimerson, who was also born in February, also has his own set of books in his NICU room. His mother, Sonya Jimerson of Virginia Beach, said his 3-year-old sister has always been read to as well, so it’s a family affair.

The early literacy effort is just one aspect in the neonatal neurology treatment that CHKD has spent decades developing. From leading-edge treatment to brain-focused research, neonatologists and neurologists work together using a multidisciplinary approach to protect, heal, and develop the newborn brain.

More than 500 babies a year come to CHKD’s 70-bed NICU, which is the highest level, most sophisticated unit in the region, offering care from a comprehensive team of neonatologists, neurologists, nurses, social workers, parent support coordinators, therapists, and other specialists. The recently renovated unit has private and semi-private rooms, giving families plenty of privacy for reading and singing.

Considering that CHKD pediatricians also prescribe books, to the tune of 82,000 books a year, CHKD patients throughout Hampton Roads should have sizeable home libraries by the time they begin school.

“Since research in brain development has shown reading aloud helps to build connections between written and spoken words, increases attention span, and enforces bonding, it is never too early to begin that process,” said LaVern Morris, administrator of the overall Reach Out and Read Program at CHKD. “That makes the neonatal environment the perfect place to start children on a journey of success and prepare them to enter school ready to learn.”

Sonya Jimerson of Virginia Beach reads to her son, Luke, in CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Sonya Jimerson of Virginia Beach reads to her son, Luke, in CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit, which recently became the first NICU in the state to be a Reach Out and Read site.

Charlie McCarthy finds a moment of bliss as his mother, Erin, reads him a book.

Charlie McCarthy finds a moment of bliss as his mother, Erin, reads him a book.

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CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. In 2019, CHKD broke ground on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center on its campus to address the mental health crisis facing our youth. The new tower being built on CHKD’s campus in Norfolk is scheduled to open in 2022. Learn more at CHKD.org.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Earley: Elizabeth.Earley@CHKD.org or (757) 668-9049

CHKD's Child Abuse Program Adopts New Name to Reflect Accreditation: CHKD Child Advocacy Center

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – CHKD’s Child Abuse Program, dedicated to providing expert forensic, mental health, and advocacy services to children who may have experienced maltreatment and trauma has been renamed the CHKD Child Advocacy Center.

The name change, announced during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, better reflects the center’s status as a child advocacy center accredited since 2003 by National Children’s Alliance. Accredited child advocacy centers like CHKD’s are child-friendly facilities in which law enforcement, child protection, medical and mental health, judicial, and victim advocacy professionals work together to provide a multidisciplinary, collaborative response to children and families when there is a concern that abuse or neglect has occurred with the goal of preventing further trauma and strengthening resilience.

The center has been operated by CHKD since 1998, and cares for more than 1,500 children a year at locations in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News. Its staff, which includes two board-certified child abuse pediatricians, forensic and mental health experts, provides compassionate, evidence-based care that actively honors each child’s specific circumstances and cultural heritage to empower and support families, and promote justice, equity, hope, and resiliency within our community.

Learn more about these services at our CHKD Child Advocacy Center website.

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CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. In 2019, CHKD broke ground on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center on its campus to address the mental health crisis facing our youth. The new tower being built on CHKD’s campus in Norfolk is scheduled to open in 2022. 

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Monday, March 15, 2021
Contact: Elizabeth Earley: Elizabeth.Earley@CHKD.org or (757) 668-9049

CHKD Welcomes Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician

Richard Gerber, MD - Developmental Pediatrics at CHKDHAMPTON ROADS, Va. – We’re pleased to welcome a developmental-behavioral pediatrician to CHKD.

Dr. Richard “Jason” Gerber, a board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatrician, received his medical degree from Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. He did his residency with the United States Air Force in San Antonio, followed by a fellowship at the Madigan Army Medical Center in the state of Washington.

Left: Dr. Richard "Jason" Gerber

Dr. Gerber has spent 21 years with the United States Air Force, caring for children with special needs in all five branches of the military. He has many connections to various resources within the Hampton Roads community, including support groups, medical and therapeutic services, as well as early intervention services.

In addition, Dr. Gerber has a special interest in helping children with special needs make the transition to adulthood, using a variety of community resources. He loves helping parents feel empowered to advocate for their children and helping them create plans so their children reach their full potential.

Dr. Gerber will treat children in the developmental pediatrics program at CHKD. Please join us in welcoming him.

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CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. In 2019, CHKD broke ground on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center on its campus to address the mental health crisis facing our youth. The new tower being built on CHKD’s campus in Norfolk is scheduled to open in 2022. Learn more at CHKD.org.

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(757) 668-6960