The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) has decided to renovate its Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) to address mental health issues faced by children and adolescents. 

Under the renovation plan, a private space will be created within the existing Paediatric Emergency Department to triage patients with mental health emergencies.  

The new area will have four rooms for patient care, a play/occupational therapy room, a bathroom and a workstation.  

UMSOM Psychiatry assistant professor and UMMC Child and Adolescent Psychiatry director Sarah Edwards said: “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 stabilise patients more quickly, whether that’s through de-escalation, activating medication, observation, or a combination.”

While the construction is scheduled to start this year, the renovated space is expected to be ready by 2023.

CRGA Design will serve as architect for the renovations. 

The works, likely to cost over $600,000, will be taken up with support from multiple donors. Credit union SECU Maryland, on behalf of its philanthropic arm SECU MD Foundation, has come forward to donate $100,000.

Drs Rouben and Violet Jiji Foundation, The Gilbert Geldman Foundation, UMCH board members and Paediatric ED head Dr Getachew Teshome are other donors supporting the renovation.

Teshome said: “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.”

Located at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in downtown Baltimore, UMCH provides healthcare to children with critical and chronic illnesses.