URMC expanding child, adolescent mental health care

URMC will today announce an expansion for child/adolescent mental health care.

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The University of Rochester Medical Center is expanding space and services for outpatient child and adolescent mental health care.

On Thursday morning, URMC announced construction will begin soon on what will be the flagship for the UR's Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness programs.

Tom Golisano pledged $5 million for construction of the new Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness Center. UR Medical Center is matching Golisano's gift to pay for the $10 million building.

A diverse team will staff the Center, including child psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, nurses, and more.

RELATED: Rochester's urgent need for adolescent mental health help

The estimated 30,000-square-foot facility will be on land owned by Al Sigl Community of Agencies near South Ave and Science Parkway. URMC says this is about having more space - and better space - to meet increasing demands for outpatient services. Easier access to outpatient care is expected to reduce the demand for psychiatric emergency and inpatient programs.

"You want to try to avoid people having to be in that much distress that they need to go to the emergency department or to be hospitalized," said Dr. Linda Alpert-Gillis, director of child/adolescent outpatient services.

The new space will allow for expansion of "Partial Hospital" - a program where patients spend the day in treatment but go home at night.

"This is something that doesn't exist in much of the country," according to Dr. Michael Scharf , Chief Child/Adolescent Psychiatry. "We're fortunate to have a program here. Historically it's been undersized so we're looking forward to that expansion."

URMC is not worried about filling the new building given the demand for outpatient care and programs. "We have more than 150 children on the wait list and the majority of those children are under the age of ten," said Dr. Alpert-Gillis.

The expansion will also make room for something new: an intensive outpatient program where kids well enough to go to school do so, then get treatment after each school day.

Construction on both buildings is expected to begin next spring, with completion of the Behavioral Health & Wellness Center slated for 2019.

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