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March 6, 2024

Unit to be Funded by a $5.7M Appropriation Spearheaded by NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly Member Michael Benedetto Serves as a Model to Address Unmet Behavioral and Mental Health Needs of Children and Adolescents in the Bronx

 BRONX, NY—  March 6, 2024 – Montefiore today announced plans for a new pediatric inpatient psychiatry unit adding a new care option to address the unmet urgent behavioral and mental health needs of children and adolescents in the Bronx. The Montefiore Einstein Center for Children’s Mental Health of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Einstein will be funded in part by a nearly $6 million appropriation to Montefiore spearheaded by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly Member Michael Benedetto. The 21-bed child and adolescent unit will be located within the New York City Children’s Center (NYCCC) campus adjacent to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and will serve as a model for urban pediatric inpatient psychiatric services. The new program will physically and programmatically extend the capacity of CHAM to provide a full range of medical and behavioral health services for youth in the region. The proposed center will be designed to provide best-in-class intensive treatment for youth with serious behavioral health conditions including severe depression, anxiety, trauma, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and other acute psychiatric conditions.

Nationally, children’s mental health is in crisis. Nearly 160 million people in the U.S. – including all Bronx children – live in designated mental healthcare professional shortage areas. Of the more than 281,629 children ages 5 to 17 who live in the Bronx, 20 percent (56,326) have a mental health disorder, and 10 percent (28,163) are considered to have serious emotional disturbances. According to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the current number of full-time specialists practicing child and adolescent psychiatry in the Bronx is not enough to meet existing needs for services.

Children and adolescents across the country and in the Bronx who require acute psychiatric services often end up languishing in Emergency Departments waiting for available beds which are often far from their community and can be difficult for them to travel to. Moreover, a recent JAMA study found that overall visits to pediatric emergency rooms for mental health crises increased 43 percent from 2015 to 2020, rising 8 percent per year on average with an increase in emergency visits for every category of mental illness.

This project, pending approval from the New York State Department of Health and Office of Mental Health, will greatly expand psychiatry services for Bronx youth, making it easier to access treatment and foster equitable care in the community. Additionally, this environment will offer enriched training for medical students and other health professionals. 

“Our commitment to youth mental health is a mainstay of who we are at Montefiore and now is the moment for us advance treatment, bringing more access and new models of care to the Bronx through the creation of this 21-bed unit. With an expert multidisciplinary team, the more intensive level of services provided to children and adolescents and their families during a particularly challenging time will strengthen their chances of leading more healthy and fulfilling lives in the community going forward. We are proud to work in collaboration with Speaker Heastie and Assemblyman Benedetto to address rising mental and behavioral health needs; our mutual goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of young New Yorkers," said Jonathan E. Alpert, M.D., Ph.D., Silverman University Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Mental and behavioral health needs are at an all-time high among our Bronx children, and we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to create conditions in which they can thrive and live healthy lives. That is why I’m proud to partner with my colleague, Assemblyman Mike Benedetto, to allocate funding for this project – one that will be essential to ensuring accessible, appropriate, and timely care for those who need it. As a leading health system in New York renowned for delivering exceptional care, I am confident that Montefiore will exceed in tackling mental health disparities with the new pediatric psychiatry unit,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

The Montefiore pediatric psychiatry unit will provide 24/7 best-in-class care and access to comprehensive evaluation and care administered by mental health professionals expert in pediatric psychiatry. This unit will improve continuity of care for Montefiore and Bronx patients through state-of-the-art treatments and compassionate inpatient services in a developmentally appropriate, culturally attuned, and inclusive atmosphere. Additionally, patient care plans will be coordinated within the Montefiore system, creating a smooth transition to further Bronx-based outpatient care, as appropriate.

“Montefiore's focus on growing inpatient mental and behavioral health treatment for children and adolescents in the Bronx reflects a commitment to reducing care inequities, addressing the community's specific needs, and providing leadership in the realm of urban pediatric mental healthcare. I’m grateful for their dedication to leading the charge on an issue impacting the Bronx youth, and I’m hopeful that with adequate approvals and resources, we will be successful in improving mental and behavioral health outcomes for children and adolescents in our communities,” said New York State Assembly Member Michael RBenedetto.

Earlier this year, Montefiore was designated as a NYS Office of Mental Health Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, providing care in community settings for children and adolescents at three Bronx-based campuses – Moses Child Outpatient Psychiatry Division, Wakefield Child Outpatient Psychiatry Division which includes an Intensive Outpatient Program for adolescents, and Montefiore Behavioral Health Center – as well as Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care, a Westchester-based faculty practice location. Montefiore is one of seven academic centers participating in NYS Project TEACH, which provides psychiatric consultation, education, and services to pediatricians and family practitioners throughout New York State. 




About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems. It is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley. It comprises ten hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, and over two hundred outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or view us on Facebook and YouTube.