KVC Hospitals Inc. plans to open a children’s psychiatric hospital in Wichita in early 2019, after seeing high admission rates from Wichita-area children at its other two Kansas hospitals.
“There’s a great demand for our services, sadly,” says Michelle Lawrence, Vice President for KVC Health Systems, a private, nonprofit organization that provides services in behavioral health care and child welfare.
KVC Hospitals is part of KVC Health Systems, which is headquartered in the greater Kansas City area and serves the midsection of America with locations in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Last year, KVC Hospitals served 3,492 children between the ages of 6 and 18 at its KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, and its KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays, Kansas. The children hospitalized struggle with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, trauma and substance abuse.
Of the children hospitalized at KVC’s two Kansas locations last year, 691 came from the Wichita area, Lawrence notes.
The new 54-bed hospital in Wichita will have the potential to serve up to 2,800 children annually, Lawrence estimates. Patient data from Sedgwick and Johnson counties, which are Kansas’ most populated counties, show high, rising rates of youth suicide in those areas, Lawrence says.
The hospital will be located in the former Kansas Orthopedic Center at 1507 W. 21st St. N. The 30,000-square-foot facility will be renovated and expanded. The Wichita hospital, which is expected to have about 150 to 200 employees, will provide acute inpatient services only.
Providers in the Wichita and surrounding area had approached KVC hospital officials about considering a Wichita location because of the need for children’s psychiatric services closer to home, Lawrence says. Admission referrals from Wichita-area providers to KVC’s other Kansas hospitals reflect the growing need.
Wichita has one other inpatient psychiatric center — Via Christi Behavioral Health Center, which serves both adult and 12- to 17-year-old patients. It also has an outpatient program. KVC hospitals serve patients ages 6 to 18.
According to the KVC website, its acute hospitalization program provides:
- intensive psychiatric care and medication management
- individual, family and group therapy services
- case coordination services
- pediatric assessment and treatment
- 24-hour support and supervision from trained behavioral health nursing staff
With a goal of achieving long-term outcomes, KVC uses more experiential therapy provided through resilience centers at its hospitals. It’s a treatment model KVC has been refining for the past five years, Lawrence says.
Within the resilience center, children learn to become more self-aware and how to better regulate both their emotions and their bodies. They work on executive function skills like problem-solving, prioritizing, organizing a plan and getting started. Through teaching self-protection skills and helping youth identify high-risk situations, the model is intended to improve interpersonal safety skills.
The therapy helps not only address the acute care needs of the child, but also provides long-term mental health management by building up a child’s skills to handle high-risk situations, Lawrence explains. For example, by doing physical exercise children will experience and understand an increased heart rate, which also can be a symptom of anxiety or fear. By recognizing physical and emotional symptoms, the children can then employ techniques learned in therapy to help address those symptoms.
“KVC will help thousands of children build healthier brains and greater resilience every year,” Lawrence says.