Children and teens with mental illnesses face many challenges, and chief among them is finding specialized outpatient care following a hospital stay. Here on the First Coast, that is changing, thanks to generous contributions from two major organizations.
More than $2 million in gifts from Florida Blue for a Patient Support Endowment and Robert and Margaret Hill for a Behavioral Health Endowment are dedicated to the needs of children and teens served by the new Wolfson Children’s Center for Behavioral Health. These new gifts build upon the 2012 gift from the Delores Barr and J. Wayne Weaver Legacy Endowment Fund, which was the first in our community to draw much-needed attention to youth mental health needs and the stigma often associated with mental illness.
Located in Baptist Health’s newly named Southbank Plaza on Prudential Drive, Wolfson Children’s Center for Behavioral Health is home to a wide range of outpatient psychology and psychiatry services, now offered in one location. The office is dedicated entirely to children and adolescents, unlike most psychology and psychiatry offices, which typically serve both adult and pediatric patients.
The center’s expertise will be further enhanced by the addition of a developmental pediatrician from the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. This specialized pediatrician will be an important resource for families of children with autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental conditions, which often come with complex behavioral health issues.
“Baptist Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital have long made mental health services a priority,” said Hugh Greene, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “We are incredibly grateful to these generous donors for helping us ease the anxiety of and enhance the care provided to children and families facing these challenges.”
Florida Blue’s support will help children and their families “receive the crucial help they need to overcome potentially lifelong issues and lead productive lives as members of our community,” said CEO Pat Geraghty. “Florida Blue’s mission is to help people and communities achieve better health. I can’t think of a better place to start than by helping to expand the pediatric behavioral health services available in Northeast Florida.”