For Immediate Release June 23, 2022

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Stephanie Janard:

$600,000 renovations boosted by donor support from SECU Maryland, the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Foundation, The Gilbert Geldman Foundation, hospital board members and the head of the pediatric ED

BALTIMORE – In response to an increasing number of children and adolescents needing emergency psychiatric care, the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) is renovating its Pediatric Emergency Department with financial support from multiple donors. UMCH is located at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the University of Maryland Medical System’s flagship academic hospital in downtown Baltimore.

Construction is slated to begin this year on making an area in the existing Pediatric ED a more private and dedicated space for triaging patients experiencing a mental health emergency. Architectural plans include four rooms for patient care, a dedicated play/occupational therapy room, a bathroom with a shower and a work station for staff. The renovated area is targeted for completion in the summer of 2023.

Youth mental health has been an ongoing topic during the COVID-19 pandemic, although feelings of depression, suicide ideation and other mental health challenges were rising well before COVID-19, as noted late last year by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. However, the pandemic has exacerbated a myriad of mental health issues confronting children and adolescents. For much of 2020, overall pediatric ER visits for mental health conditions spiked by double digits across age groups in the country. While those numbers have since declined for some mental health conditions, they continue to rise for others, especially for adolescent girls, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Nationally and locally, we must evolve our emergency departments to better meet the needs of patients in a mental health crisis, especially when those patients are children. One only has to look at the numbers to understand why,” said Getachew Teshome, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), and Chief of the Pediatric Emergency Department at UMCH.

SECU Maryland, UMCH board, ER chief and other donors lead financial support

Renovations are expected to cost approximately $600,000. SECU Maryland, the state’s largest credit union, on behalf of its philanthropic arm--SECU MD Foundation--has pledged to underwrite a significant portion of that sum with a donation of $100,000.

The credit union is a longtime supporter of multiple units within the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, with financial contributions including upgrades to the neonatal intensive care unit; the purchase of sleep chairs in every room of the pediatric intensive care unit; and now this gift to the Pediatric ED. To date, SECU Maryland has contributed close to $250,000 to the children’s hospital.

Other donors funding these important improvements include the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Foundation, The Gilbert Geldman Foundation, the board of the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, as well as the head of the Pediatric Emergency Department himself, Dr. Teshome.

“Triaging a child in the midst of a mental health crisis is different from caring for a child who has a physical injury or illness—and the environments must be different, too. The renovated space will provide a calming setting to help stabilize patients more quickly, whether that’s through de-escalation, activating medication, observation, or a combination,” said Sarah Edwards, DO, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UMSOM and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UMMC.

Dr. Edwards also advised parents and caregivers what to do if their child appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis: “If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, contact your child’s pediatrician who is trained to screen, identify, and provide guidance on behavioral health issues. However, if your child is threatening to hurt themselves or others, or has made a suicide attempt, an emergency mental health evaluation is warranted.”

“So many patients and families look to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital as a lifeline in the midst of crisis. On their behalf, I want to thank SECU Maryland, our board of directors, and our visionary clinical leaders for continuing to expand our capacity to care for the whole health of children,” said Steven J. Czinn, MD, the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Endowed Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics at UMSOM, and Director of UMCH.

CRGA Design will be the architect for the renovations.  

If interested in making a financial donation to children’s mental health care at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, please contact umms-foundation@umm.edu.

About the University of Maryland Children's Hospital

The University of Maryland Children's Hospital at the University of Maryland Medical Center is recognized throughout Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region as a resource for children with critical and chronic illnesses. UMCH physicians and staff excel in combining state-of-the-art medicine with family-centered care. More than 100 physicians specialize in understanding how to treat conditions and diseases in children, including congenital heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy and gastrointestinal disorders. The Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides the highest level of care to the tiniest newborns. To learn more about the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, please visit http://umm.edu/childrens.

About the University of Maryland Medical Center

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospital campuses in Baltimore: the 800-bed flagship institution of the 12-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and the 200-bed UMMC Midtown Campus. Both campuses are academic medical centers for training physicians and health professionals and for pursuing research and innovation to improve health. UMMC's downtown campus is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurosciences, advanced cardiovascular care, and women's and children's health, and has one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the country. All physicians on staff at the downtown campus are clinical faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The UMMC Midtown Campus medical staff is predominately faculty physicians specializing in a wide spectrum of medical and surgical subspecialties, primary care for adults and children and behavioral health. UMMC Midtown has been a teaching hospital for 140 years and is located one mile away from the downtown campus. For more information, visit www.umm.edu.

About the University of Maryland Medical System

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is a university-based regional health care system focused on serving the health care needs of Maryland, bringing innovation, discovery and research to the care we provide and educating the state's future physician and health care professionals through our partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the UM Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Dentistry in Baltimore. As one of the largest private employers in the State, the health system's 28,000 employees and 4,000 affiliated physicians provide primary and specialty care in more than 150 locations and at 12 hospitals. UMMS' flagship academic campus, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is partnered with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is recognized regionally and nationally for excellence and innovation in specialized care. Our acute care and specialty rehabilitation hospitals serve urban, suburban and rural communities and are located in 13 counties across the State. In addition, UMMS operates health insurance plans serving Medicare and Medicaid members. For more information, visit www.umms.org.