The 14-story facility will ease statewide shortage of children’s psychiatric beds

WHAT: Groundbreaking ceremony for CHKD mental health hospital.
10:30 a.m., Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
400 Gresham Drive, Norfolk.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam; Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox; Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander; CHKD President and CEO Jim Dahling; Eric and Michelle Peterson, mental health advocates; Lighting the Way Campaign Chair John Lawson II; and CHKD Health System Board of Directors Chair Chris Neikirk.

NORFOLK, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam will join state and local legislators, community leaders, and CHKD officials at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, September 17, to launch a $224 million mental health hospital expected to transform mental health care for children across the state.

The 14-story building on Gresham Drive 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.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist at CHKD before becoming governor, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony that will showcase plans for the mental health hospital. The 60-bed facility will offer a new level of care, standing out among the nation’s top pediatric mental health hospitals, with innovative patient- and family-centered design, research-based treatments, academic training programs for the next generation of child psychiatrists, and unparalleled support and community involvement. All inpatient rooms will be private, with sleeping accommodations for a parent. 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 facility, scheduled to open in 2022, will also provide outpatient therapy and a “partial hospitalization” program that provides intensive care to children who will spend most of the day at the hospital, but still reside at home.

Nationally, 20 percent of children have a diagnosable mental health condition. At CHKD, the number of outpatient therapy visits and mental health consultations increased by 300 percent over a recent three-year period. Virginia's only state mental health hospital for children, Commonwealth Center for Children & Adolescents in Staunton, has seen an alarming increase in demand. An increasing number of children who turned to CHKD for care waited days for a bed or even left the state to find care.

CHKD will focus programming on children who have the hardest time finding treatment, including children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders as well as children with eating disorders, chronic medical and co-occurring mental illness, and children ages 2 to 5.

CHKD has a long history of stepping in to close gaps in the care of children in this community. The mental health crisis facing our community is no different. As daunting as it is to create a new system of care for these children in need, CHKD is committed to lighting the way toward healing, not just in our community, but for children everywhere.

“This is what CHKD has done throughout its history,” CHKD President and CEO Jim Dahling said. “Identify needs, and craft visionary solutions that make this health system a true champion of the children.”

News Releases_MH Groundbreaking

Artist’s rendering of the exterior of CHKD’s new mental health hospital.

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.