- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas health system is planning to open a new psychiatric hospital for children who have suicidal thoughts, feelings of violence, depression and substance abuse.

KVC Hospitals will open the new 54-bed hospital by early 2019 at the former Kansas Orthopedic Center in Wichita. The hospital will have the capacity to treat 2,800 patients between the ages of 6 and 18 annually, the Wichita Eagle reported .

Children from Wichita and south-central Kansas have had to go to KVC’s psychiatric hospitals in Hays or Kansas City to receive treatment. The new KVC hospital will be the largest provider of psychiatric services for children and adults outside the Kansas City area, said Matthew Macaluso, associate professor and director of the residency training program at KU School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“To put that in perspective, you have three board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists outside of the Kansas City area,” he said. “That’s for the entire state of Kansas.”

KVC said more than half the children admitted to the system’s hospitals often struggle with suicide.



“When any child is in crisis, we want them to get the care they need right away,” said Michelle Lawrence, vice president of development for KVC Health Systems. “We are so happy to have one of our hospitals located where so many children will be able to be so much closer to home and receive services.”

The new program will focus on empowering children to become self-aware, understand their trauma, learn to manage triggers and regulate emotions and bodies.

Lawrence said she’s received overwhelming support for the new hospital.

“I think everyone recognizes the urgent nature of the work that we do and the need to be able to accommodate children who are suicidal or homicidal,” she said. “When you’re looking at a problem like this or issue like this, we need out community to be partners in this with us.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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