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Press Releases

Bellevue Hospital Opens New Children’s Psychiatric Emergency Care Center

Program responds to growing demand for children and adolescent mental health services

Nov 03, 2010

New York, NY

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The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Bellevue Hospital Center today announced the opening of the new Children’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, the first of its kind in a city public hospital and only the second Children’s CPEP in the city and state.
The 3,500 square foot unit will serve 1,500 children and adolescents up to 18 years of age annually. The $1.1 million unit has been designed to provide an optimal environment for the evaluation and treatment of psychiatric crises, including suicidal or aggressive behavior, depression, psychosis, and serious family conflicts. The Children’s CPEP will be fully operational for patients in late November.
“Since 1995, Bellevue Hospital Center has experienced a fivefold increase in the number of children and adolescents coming to our medical emergency rooms in psychiatric crisis – increasing from 155 visits in 1995 to more than 1,000 visits in 2009,” said Dr. Jennifer Havens, Director and Chief of Service of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The reasons for the increase are associated with a number of factors: growing societal awareness of children’s mental health issues; the crisis of teen suicide; and increased referrals from schools that have implemented psychiatric assessment protocols to prevent school violence following the tragedy at Columbine High School.
“Some studies have suggested that a decrease in mental health service capacity along with the increasing recognition of mental health issues has resulted in a perfect storm, challenging many emergency room settings to meet the needs of children and adolescents in psychiatric emergencies,” Dr. Havens said.
In response to this situation, Bellevue Hospital Center and HHC have developed a dedicated Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) specifically for children and adolescents. The program offers a discrete space that meets safety standards for psychiatric patients and provides 24 hour-a-day/7 day-a-week staffing by child and adolescent psychiatrists, nurses and social workers. The new C-CPEP has a secure unit that includes six extended observation unit beds for up to 72 hours of evaluation and intervention to help stabilize the child or adolescent, reducing the need for inpatient admissions. An adjacent suite provides space for the evaluation of patients who do not need extended observation but require assessment and treatment planning.
“The Children’s CPEP fills a compelling need for young people up to 18 years of age who are in crisis,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “This program raises the bar on the standard of care for children and teenagers in psychiatric crisis and is yet another essential but scarce healthcare service available through our public hospital system.”
Medical emergency rooms are not optimally equipped to deal with psychiatric emergencies, according to Dr. Havens. Young people in need of immediate treatment are often admitted to inpatient units, not because they require inpatient care, but because they require immediate care. Many of these costly admissions could be avoided if adequate services for brief stabilization and intensive outpatient care were available. The Children’s CPEP was developed to address this gap.
“This is the culmination of a multi-year planning process aimed at bridging current gaps in the system of care for children in psychiatric crisis,” explained Lynda D. Curtis, Senior Vice President/ Executive Director of Bellevue. “Our new facility provides the best setting for embracing children and families in their time of crisis and providing them with hope for the future.”
“Mental health problems can quickly overwhelm a family’s capacity to effectively support their children,” Dr. Havens said. “The Bellevue Children’s CPEP offers the breadth of services and the expertise to dramatically change the trajectory of young people in psychiatric crisis.”
Follow-up care will include immediate access to outpatient care at our Interim Crisis clinic located within C-CPEP; referral to short-term Home-Based Crisis Intervention (HBCI) services; referral for ongoing outpatient care at Bellevue or other community programs; Mobile Crisis Services; or inpatient care in one of two units, depending on the child’s age: the 15-bed child psychiatry unit or the 15-bed adolescent psychiatry unit. Another 15-bed adolescent psychiatry unit is planned for 2011.
The project is supported by funding from the following organizations: New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation; New York State Office of Mental Health; Borough President Scott Stringer; the Bellevue Association, Inc.; the Leon Lowenstein Foundation; and the van Ameringen Foundation through the Children of Bellevue, Inc.
Bellevue has been a pioneer in the field of child mental health for more than 80 years, opening the first children’s psychiatric inpatient service in a general hospital in 1923 and the world’s first adolescent inpatient unit in 1937.


Contact: Ian Michaels (HHC) (212) 788-3339

About Bellevue

Bellevue is a member of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and is America’s oldest continuously operating hospital, established in 1736. Affiliated with the NYU School of Medicine, Bellevue is a major referral center for highly complex cases. The 828-bed hospital has more than 4,000 employees and runs an extensive ambulatory care program that provides more than 500,000 outpatient primary care and specialty care visits annually. Its emergency room sees more than 125,000 visits every year. Clinical centers of excellence include: Emergency Medicine and Trauma Care; Cardiovascular Services; Designated Regional Perinatal Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Comprehensive Children’s Psychiatric Emergency Program; and Cancer Services.

About HHC

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.