Valley Children's and Universal Health Services announces new behavioral health hospital for kids in Madera

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- From healing the body to healing the mind, new resources are on the horizon for the Valley Children's Healthcare Network.

"Today represents the biggest step we have taken in many years to help kids and families with their behavioral health issues," said Jeannine Grech, Valley Children's Board chair.

A new behavioral health hospital is in the works.

The more than 80,000 square foot facility will be built on the Valley Children's campus.

This new facet of care has been made possible through a partnership with Universal Health Services.

"In the months ahead, we will focus our efforts on building a beautiful state-of-the-art facility here in Madera," said Mike Zauner, UHS Behavioral Health CEO.

The 128-bed hospital will serve adults and children.

Valley Children's Hospital CEO Todd Suntrapak said California faces a shortage when it comes to mental health services.

In their 12-county service area, there is only one bed available for about every 19,000 children and teens.

Many currently have to seek help outside the area.

"It will provide so much relief for moms and dads too, as well as the children that get an incredible standard of care and get their issues resolved," said Suntrapak.

A majority of those seeking treatment are students.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said the new facility will go beyond what they already offer in schools.

"When they have an issue that goes critical where they need in-patient services and treatment, there is no option right now, so this is somebody driving a stake in the ground, saying we are going to provide beds for kids," said.

Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp said she sees a lot of adolescents come through the criminal justice system.

She said the new facility is creating an opportunity to correct bad behaviors and change lives.

"It is very important to address the children's social, emotional and mental health needs at a young age because when they are headed down the wrong path, everything is affected," said Smittcamp.

One 24-bed unit will be dedicated to pediatric psychiatric services.

In addition, the facility will also offer a multitude of outpatient programs and create 250 jobs.

Construction is slated to begin next year with the completion of the facility by spring of 2022.
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