NORFOLK — The Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters is breaking ground Tuesday on a new $224 million pediatric mental health hospital.
Gov. Ralph Northam, a former CHKD pediatric neurologist, is the keynote speaker at the ceremony where they’re showcasing plans for the 14-story facility on Gresham Drive, officials wrote in a news release.
The new facility scheduled to open in 2022 will fill the gap in a statewide shortage of pediatric mental health services, officials said.
Over a three-year period, officials said the number of outpatient therapy visits and mental health consultations increased by 300 percent at CHKD while the only pediatric mental health hospital in the state, Commonwealth Center for Children & Adolescents in Staunton, saw “an alarming increase in demand” for care.
“An increasing number of children who turned to CHKD for care waited days for a bed or even left the state to find care,” officials said.
The focus at the new hospital is on children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders who officials said “have the hardest time finding treatment.”
And while all 60 inpatient rooms are designed to be private with parent-sleeping accommodations, there’ll also be a new “partial hospitalization” program allowing children to reside at home while spending most of their day at the hospital to receive outpatient “intensive care” therapy.
Amenities will also include an outdoor recreation area, indoor gym, music room and recording studio, rooftop garden, soothing multi-sensory room, and family lounge areas.
“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,” officials said. “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.”
Other speakers at Tuesday’s groundbreaking include Mayor Kenneth Alexander, mental health advocates Eric and Michelle Peterson, CHKD officials, and more state and local legislators and community leaders.