Expansion of Behavioral Health Services for Children in the Inland Northwest

Keith Georgeson, MD
Chief Executive of Children’s Services
Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital

The Inland Northwest region has seen a dramatic increase in the number of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression disorders. Demand for child and adolescent psychiatric services is stretching resources throughout the region and in many cases, delaying appropriate care.  As an example, the emergency department at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital has often become an overnight holding area for children needing acute psychiatric care because our psychiatric ward has no available rooms.

To meet the demand for psychiatric services for children and adolescents, Providence St. Joseph Health has teamed with Fairfax to build a psychiatric hospital on the Providence Sacred Heart Campus, scheduled to open this fall.  The new hospital will provide a 24-bed unit for adolescent psychiatric patients in addition to the adult side of the hospital.  Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center is planning to re-purpose at least six rooms for children with mental health needs aged 12 years and under.

Not all patients require hospitalization, but they still need intensive care. To help meet their needs, Providence has developed an intensive outpatient psychiatric facility on the Providence Holy Family Hospital campus for patients that do not require immediate hospitalization but need urgent psychiatric treatment.

These services will help meet existing demand, but there remains a shortage of fellowship-trained psychiatrists in the region to fill gaps in services. The development of a Child Psychiatry fellowship at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in 2019 will help address this shortage.

These new developments, in concert with existing programs and services, will help meet demand throughout the region.