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GCH New Children's Mental Health Facility

The Golisano Children's Hospital (GCH) has recently introduced the Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care Center, marking the first facility of its kind in the area. The walk-in clinic will provide immediate mental health care to individuals up to age 18, eliminating the need for prior appointments. Organizers confirmed the project received a $1 million donation from the Brighter Days Foundation.

Annette Weld, the director of the Brighter Days Foundation, explained that the decision to fund this project was driven by the urgent need for behavioral health services. The donation seeks to address the nationwide crisis in child and adolescent mental health at a local level. Weld stressed the importance of taking action rather than just discussing the issue and expressed her excitement for the positive changes that will result. While there is still work to be done and additional funds to be raised, the progress made thus far is seen as a step in the right direction.

Dr. Michael Scharf, the psychiatrist-in-chief at GCH, expressed his enthusiasm for this pioneering initiative, noting that no similar clinics exist outside the New York City region. He believes that the center will play a crucial role in delivering vital mental health care to thousands of children in Western New York. The primary objective of the clinic is to offer prompt and secure mental health services for children, ultimately reducing the reliance on emergency room visits and long wait times for outpatient care.

The Brighter Days center will be accessible to walk-in patients from noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Dr. Scharf estimates that the clinic will provide care to approximately 3,000 patients each year. To ensure comprehensive and well-rounded assistance, the center will have 15 patient rooms, staffed by 30 caregivers consisting of mental health counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, case managers, and support staff.

The services offered at Brighter Days will be diverse and inclusive, encompassing assessment and evaluation, safety planning, crisis intervention, family-centered support, and connections to appropriate community and educational resources. Dr. Linda Alpert-Gillis, the director of Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness, emphasized the significance of incorporating family input into the design of the center and the determination of the services it will provide. They noted the environment at Brighter Days will be designed to be welcoming, respectful, and serene, to ensure that families in crisis feel comfortable and supported. The center is scheduled to open on July 15.




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