Golisano Children's Hospital / News / Davitt Family Creates New Endowed Professorship to Address Children’s Mental Health Crisis
Davitt Family Creates New Endowed Professorship to Address Children’s Mental Health Crisis
Michael A. Scharf, M.D., Psychiatrist-in-Chief at UR Medicine Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has been named the inaugural Mark and Maureen Davitt Distinguished Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. This new endowed professorship was created by the Davitt family to build on GCH’s commitment to addressing the pediatric mental health crisis that has been growing nationwide and in Monroe County.
“We were motivated to create this professorship due to personal experiences with children of friends, friends of friends, and our own relatives who have been affected by mental health issues,” said Maureen Davitt. “When you know of a child that has attempted or committed suicide, died of a drug overdose, or suffers from anxiety and depression to the point it affects their daily functioning, you know there is a problem. This truly comes from our hearts. We have an opportunity to help our youth, who are our future, and this is a step to doing better getting them the help they need.”
“The daily news is a constant reminder of the need for education, preventative measures and early intervention; and help requires the involvement of not only individuals and their families, but schools and social organizations as well.”
~ Mark Davitt
During the past decade, Scharf has helped implement multiple proactive initiatives that have expanded the capacity of GCH to provide mental health services, including the opening of the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Center in 2020, new partnerships with school districts across the county to provide onsite counseling and screenings, and the growth of crisis services to reduce waiting times for emergency care.
As a result of these investments, the GCH’s outpatient capacity has doubled, and despite a significant rise in wait times for emergency care nationally, wait times emergency services at GCH have decreased due to the growth of the Mobile Crisis Team and effective triage policies.
“Spend some time with Mike, and you will learn he is a warm and compassionate individual with a compelling vision for help that has and will continue to come to life,” said Mark Davitt. “He is dedicated to this mission and making a difference with those surrounding him.”
A major reason Scharf has been able to make progress in addressing pediatric behavioral health was his anticipation of the crisis, which was growing well before the pandemic.
“We started to see this dramatic increase in need in mental health care for children in the early 2010s, both nationally and here in Rochester,” said Scharf. “Thanks to the support of the Rochester community, we have been able to utilize a strategic approach to address this need. This gift comes in the context of finishing these crisis plans and building new ones, and I’m humbled by the generosity of Mark and Maureen Davitt and looking forward to a partnership with them.”
This professorship comes at a time when GCH is also beginning construction on the Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care, the first behavioral health urgent care facility of its kind in the region. This facility, along with expanded school partnerships and potential on-demand telemedicine care, represents a commitment from the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to continue to innovate and comprehensively help children’s mental health needs
“This crisis requires continued creativity, not just addressing crisis care and reducing waiting lists to zero, but re-imagining how we provide care for the entire region,” said Scharf.
Previously, the Davitt family helped lead to effort to raise funding for two new dedicated pediatric ambulances for GCH as chairs of the 2019 annual Gala. This endowed professorship represents their first major commitment to supporting behavioral health efforts at GCH.
“The daily news is a constant reminder of the need for education, preventative measures and early intervention; and help requires the involvement of not only individuals and their families, but schools and social organizations as well,” said Mark Davitt.