Children's psychiatric hospital will open Wichita facility

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A children's psychiatric hospital, known in Kansas, will open a new facility in Wichita this July.

By the end of the summer, KVC Hospitals will have locations in Wichita, Hays, and Kansas City.

"Thirty-percent of our kids now come from Wichita and surrounding areas. So, they're driving to Kansas City every day for psychiatric treatment. Families aren't able to visit as often as they should," said James Roberson, vice president of program services for KVC Hospitals.

KVC Hospitals is a nonprofit organization that helps children struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health crises. 

KVC is among the first to implement Virtual Reality for mental health treatment. They also use other experiential therapies, such as music, dance and equine therapy, to make it easier for youth to feel comfortable opening up about their mental health struggles.

"We know that we are working with some really challenging clients, who have a lot of things they're bringing to the table for treatment. Because of that, we have to get creative," said Alicia Armstrong, associate director of clinical services of KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital.

KVC focuses on teaching youth about their brain development, emotions and responses in different situations. It can help children understand their mental health diagnoses and how to manage their emotions in tough situations.

"There's a crisis nationwide about there not being enough psychiatric beds for people in crisis. The fact that we are able to go down to Wichita and say, 'We want to provide this, the community needs it really badly,' we're going to do it," said Armstrong.

Currently in Wichita, Via Christi St Joseph has 14 inpatient beds within the behavioral health units. They serves children ages 11 to 17. 

"Additionally, we have a Partial Day Program (PDP) for adolescents and for adults.  We serve approximately 350 adolescents per year in the PDP.  PDP is an outpatient program that includes 6 hours of group therapy per day, 5 days per week.  The program is led by licensed clinical social workers and a psychiatrist,"  said Robyn Chadwick, Vice President of Administration for Ascension Via Christi Hospital St Teresa, in an email response. 

During their fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), they had 516 admission, 444 admissions, 574 admission (annualized based on first nine months of the fiscal year), for 2017, 2018, 2019, respectively.

But, there are currently no inpatient beds for children under the age of 11.

KVC Hospitals hopes to fill the gap in services in Sedgwick County.

"This benefits not just Sedgwick County area, it benefits the entire state. If Wichita has now the 14 beds that St Joe has had, plus we have 54 beds that KVC is talking about, now suddenly we're in a position to alleviate some of the pressure on the entire state," said  Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.

He is one of the local leaders advocating for this new facility.

"If we can help these kids at this level, maybe we can get them the help they need so they don't end up self medicating. they don't end up struggling to conform," said Bennett. "The last place I want to see is more people in the penitentiary."

KVC is among the first to implement Virtual Reality for mental health treatment - this and other experiential therapies that KVC provides (such as music, dance and equine therapy) makes it easier for youth to feel comfortable opening up about their mental health struggles.

The new facility is still in need of more than $1-million dollars in funding.

Anyone interested in the fundraising efforts, contact Vice President of Development Michelle Lawrence at mlawrence@kvc.org. 

To learn more about KVC Hospitals, click here.

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