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Topping Off Ceremony Marks Milestone For CHKD Mental Health Hospital


2020-08-11

NORFOLK, Va. – Today marks a significant step toward bolstering children’s mental health care in Virginia as CHKD celebrates the placement of the highest beam on a 60-bed, 14-story mental health hospital and outpatient center.

The “topping off” ceremony marks the symbolic completion of the structural phase of the $224 million building located on the same campus as CHKD’s main hospital. When the building opens in 2022, it will be the centerpiece of a bold new initiative that will provide a full spectrum of mental health care for children, filling a critical gap in a statewide shortage of pediatric mental health services.

The building, constructed by W.M. Jordan, is rising at a time when 20 percent of the nation’s children have a mental health condition, and in the middle of a pandemic that is already having an impact on the minds of the community’s children. Already, reports are showing heightened anxiety in children experiencing fear about COVID-19, insecurity created by job losses within their family, and loneliness from social distancing. Fallout from these issues will unfold in the months and years to come.

Even before the pandemic, this community simply did not have the capacity to meet the crushing need. Community pediatricians are overwhelmed with mental health needs of their patients, and children are spending too much time waiting in our emergency department for proper inpatient placement at other facilities.

While the tower is going up with concrete and iron, the mental health program is also building human capital. More psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, and mental health administrators have been hired and are already treating the community’s children, creating a program with the most innovative, research-based treatments. Since the groundbreaking in September 2019, CHKD has recruited six new psychiatrists, three psychologists, and two licensed therapists.

The facility will have features that put it on the forefront of pediatric mental health care, including 60 private inpatient rooms with sleeping accommodations for a parent. Children will also receive outpatient therapy in an environment that supports their families and community. A “partial hospitalization” program will enable children to spend most of the day at the hospital, but still reside at home. Other facility highlights include an outdoor recreation area, an indoor gym, a music room and recording studio, a rooftop garden, a soothing multi-sensory room, and family lounge areas.

The CHKD mental health hospital will employ 415 doctors, nurses, therapists, and other mental health professionals who will treat children across the state and beyond.

For a video of the topping off ceremony, click here.

News Releases_Final Beam Topping Off

Final beam raised during topping off ceremony of the new CHKD mental health hospital and outpatient center.

News Releases_CHKD officials celebrate topping off of the new mental health hospital at CHKD.

CHKD officials celebrate topping off of the new mental health hospital at CHKD.

From left to right: Jim Dahling, president and CEO of CHKD Health System; Akhil Jain, chair of the CHKD Health System Board of Directors; Dr. Carl Peterson, chief of psychiatry at CHKD; John Lawson II, chair of the Lighting the Way Campaign Cabinet.

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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.