Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services plans a new $62 million pediatric center to address what CEO Mark Eastburg calls the “crushing need” for mental health treatment among children and adolescents.
The 88-bed Pediatric Behavioral Health Center of Excellence on Pine Rest’s 68th Street campus in Cutlerville will include a psychiatric urgent care, a crisis stabilization unit, and specialty outpatient clinics to prevent mental health crises for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
Unveiling the project this morning, Pine Rest officials expect to open the pediatric center in 2024. The facility would add much-needed capacity to address an alarming rise in the number of children and adolescents experiencing a mental illness who often have to wait weeks or months to access care.
The pediatric center will “dramatically expand and add new behavioral health services to kids in Michigan, our children and grandchildren,” Eastburg said while unveiling the project in partnership with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“Today, simply put, we do not have enough behavioral health care providers in Michigan to care for Michigan kids,” Eastburg said. “For too long, we have lived without enough mental health care for kids in Michigan. That begins to change right now.”
A $38 million appropriation in the state’s new budget for the 2023 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 will fund a large part of the project. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the budget on Wednesday. Pine Rest will seek to raise the remaining $24 million through a capital campaign.
A lack of adequate capacity and access for children and adolescents needing mental health care existed well before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Eastburg said.
The rate of adolescents and young adults experiencing a major depressive episode has doubled in the last 10 years, and suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among adolescents, he said.
Incidence rates for depression, anxiety, substance use and other issues have risen throughout the pandemic, creating a “crushing need for mental health services in our community,” Eastburg said.
“This epidemic of mental illness is nothing new, but in the last two and a half years the COVID-19 pandemic has poured kerosene on the smoldering fire of mental illness and suicide and substance use disorder in our kids,” he said. “What was an urgent need for more access to mental care services prior to the pandemic became a mental health pandemic in itself.”
Pine Rest’s partnership on the pediatric center with BHSH System’s DeVos Children’s Hospital will enable care providers to blend mental and medical care when needed for patients.
The two plan to create a “seamless continuum of care between services” at DeVos Children’s Hospital and Pine Rest, Eastburg said.
“With this center, we’re beginning to mend the fragmentation between physical health and mental health services that contribute to the suffering and confusion for kids and families in a time of crisis,” he said. “No matter where a family starts their care journey, they will experience their providers as working closely together for their benefit, getting kids to exactly the right expert as quickly as possible.”
The partnership with Pine Rest is the second announced this month for DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and DeVos Children’s Hospital plan to build the state’s first children’s rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids under a joint operating agreement. The $60 million building planned across from Mary Free Bed’s main campus will provide specialized rehab care for children.
In partnering with Pine Rest on the new pediatric center, BHSH System President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said “our kids need these services now more than ever.”
“We have been partners for decades, and what this further does is it enhances that partnership for more decades to come,” Freese Decker said.