CHKD hosts beam ceremony celebrating construction milestone for new mental health hospital

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – An up-and-coming mental health hospital in Norfolk reached a new milestone today. The highest beam was put in place atop the 14-story structure.

The $224-million project is moving into the next phase after the special beam placement ceremony Tuesday. Leaders say they’re happy to be one step closer to serving their community in a new way.

“We made a commitment to this community that we would provide these services, that we would build a structure that would serve the families and this is, like, step one of getting that done,” said Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters CEO Jim Dahling.

He was one of several people in attendance for the placing of the last beam atop the new hospital in Norfolk.

The “topping off” ceremony marks the symbolic completion of the structural phase of the building’s construction. It’s located on the same campus as CHKD’s main hospital.

When the building opens in 2022, it will be the centerpiece of a bold new initiative that will provide a full spectrum of mental health care for children, filling a critical gap in a statewide shortage of pediatric mental health services.

“We had an exponential increase in mental health [needs] among children,” said John Lawson with W. M. Jordan construction company.

He said he was on board with the project from the beginning because he knows how many people it could help.

“When families are shut-in for months at a time and kids don’t have the structure and the intellectual input that school allows, it makes the problem worse,” he said.

It was something Dahling also reflected on after signing their name on the beam.

“We have some psychiatry centers in our community but they’re very difficult to get access to, and the difference we are going to have here is, if you have a crisis you can sometimes get into one of those facilities. So, we are going to have a very robust patient program, so that parents can call and say ‘I need an assessment of my child done,'” said Dahling.

The 14-story, 60-bed facility will house outpatient care, therapy and counseling.

While the tower is going up with concrete and iron, the mental health program is also building human capital. More psychiatrists, therapists, counselors and mental health administrators have been hired and are already treating the community’s children, creating a program with the most innovative, research-based treatments. Since the groundbreaking in September 2019, CHKD has hired six new psychiatrists, three psychologists, and two licensed therapists.

“How many parents have to give up a job or stay home from work because [they] have to deal with their child at home? We’re hoping that that will have an immediate economic positive impact on our community and maybe, more importantly, on the families… They won’t feel the same stress, [they’ll] have a support basis,” Dahling said.

The facility will have features that put it at the forefront of pediatric mental health care, including 60 private inpatient rooms with sleeping accommodations for a parent. Children will also receive outpatient therapy in an environment that supports their families and community.

A “partial hospitalization” program will enable children to spend most of the day at the hospital, but still reside at home.

Other facility highlights include an outdoor recreation area, an indoor gym, a music room and recording studio, a rooftop garden, a soothing multi-sensory room, and family lounge areas.

The CHKD mental health hospital will employ 415 doctors, nurses, therapists, and other mental health professionals who will treat children across the state and beyond.


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