The Golisano Behavioral Health and Wellness Building opened on June 18 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
This building, established in 2017 thanks to $5 million gift from Tom Golisano, and completed thanks to the contributions of additional donors, will help address the rising need for pediatric behavioral health in the region.
“This new facility will help us implement a comprehensive strategy that focuses on early recognition and treatment, as well as community partnerships, to help reduce the number of children at risk, and give families new reason to hope,” says Michael Scharf, MD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and chief of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
This two-story, 36,000 square foot facility will immediately double the available space for outpatient and partial hospitalization services for the GCH Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, and will help GCH meet the increasing demand for child behavioral health services in the Finger Lakes region. The new center, which broke ground in spring of 2019, will help patients with depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other behavioral and emotional conditions.
The Golisano Behavioral Health and Wellness Building will also bring outpatient and partial hospitalization services under one roof, and is constructed to add more intensive outpatient services that will allow children to receive a higher level of care than traditional services, while still attending regular school and living at home. The facility will also include the only partial hospitalization program of its kind in the state west of the Hudson River.
In addition to increasing capacity, the new facility is constructed to provide a comfortable, caring environment for kids, a library, as well as art and music therapy programs that will allow patients to relax and unwind. In addition, a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, nurses, child psychiatrist, social workers, and mental health counselors will be on-site to serve the individual needs of each child.
For Scharf, this new facility represents the culmination of several decades of work by the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. When Scharf took over as senior medical director in 2009, the division had only five child psychiatrists on faculty. “Today, we’ve got 23,” said Scharf. “When you look at cities our size, to have that number of child psychiatrists is extremely rare, and it may even be unique.”
As the department has grown, so has the need for critical behavioral health services: the current partial hospitalization waiting list for the Finger Lakes region is up to 80 youth during the school year.
The division’s Crisis Intervention Service is one critical area that will be expanded with the new facility. This service provides scheduled appointments for youth of all ages and their families, with referrals from the Pediatric Emergency Department, the Mobile Crisis Team, and community pediatricians and family medicine physicians.
“Thanks to the contributions of Tom Golisano and other donors we will have the space to provide needed services for youth who cannot wait for a traditional outpatient appointment, yet do not need the resources of the pediatric or psychiatry emergency department,” said Linda Alpert-Gillis, PhD, director of Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Outpatient Services. “The new building will enable the innovative outpatient crisis services to double in their capacity.”
Parents and families are encouraged to visit the website for the new building to learn more about the services offered.