The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh Opens Pediatric Behavioral Health Unit

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New unit offering holistic, integrative care is the only one of its kind in the region

Representatives from The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh cut the ribbon today to open its new pediatric Behavioral Heath Unit.

Our inpatient unit is specially designed to serve children with urgent behavioral health needs who also have a chronic and/or complex medical condition and/or developmental disability.

The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, an internationally acclaimed leader in pediatric rehabilitative services, has opened a new, state-of-the-art behavioral health services inpatient unit that is the only one of its kind in the region. The pediatric Behavioral Health Unit at The Children’s Institute is an integrative program serving children with urgent behavioral health needs who also have pre-existing complex medical conditions and/or developmental disabilities.

The inpatient unit will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week with four private and six semi-private rooms. The Behavioral Health Unit at The Children’s Institute will begin accepting patients starting May 31, 2016.

“As the only one of its kind in the region, our inpatient unit is specially designed to serve children with urgent behavioral health needs who also have a chronic and/or complex medical condition and/or developmental disability,” said Aileen Peralta Oandasan, MD, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. “Our Behavioral Health Unit offering fills a much-needed void in this type of integrative healthcare, not just for children in our region, but nationally.”

Dr. Oandasan, who is board certified in general adult psychiatric as well as child and adolescent psychiatry, leads Behavioral Health and Physical Health teams to recommend traditional and holistic courses of treatment that will promote quality of life and wellness for the child and family.

The team may be comprised of a psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician, pediatric physiatrist, psychologists including neuropsychologist, nursing, behavioral specialists, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, dietician, social worker, creative arts therapist, special education teacher, biofeedback clinician and child life specialists. Care coordinators are included in the team and will follow the patient and family post discharge.

Goals of the inpatient program are to stabilize symptoms, formulate diagnostics and introduce interventions that can move the child and family toward self-regulation and management of the child’s illness. Treatment objectives are child and family centered; all decisions about care being driven by the child and family.

“We now have both the expert staff and the properly equipped physical space to integrate simultaneous treatment for both physical and behavioral health disorders holistically, so we can deliver more effective overall services for our patients,” said Matthew Masiello, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chief Medical Officer at The Children’s Institute.

In addition to its inpatient rooms, the new unit offers a multipurpose activities room, a classroom, family visitation areas and therapy rooms. It also includes a Comfort Room to avoid the use of restraint and seclusion, which has been designed using the model developed by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

The new Behavioral Health Unit has been made possible through a combination of individual donor support and grant support. The foundation community generously supported the initiative with a total of $1.4 million in funding from six foundations/trusts:

  •     Eden Hall Foundation
  •     Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust
  •     Massey Charitable Trust
  •     A.J. and Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Trust
  •     The Rust Foundation
  •     Staunton Farm Foundation

The new unit was designed by IMAGE Associates, Inc. architects and MBM Contracting served as general contractor for the unit expansion.

About The Children’s Institute
Established in 1902, The Children’s Institute is an independent, nonprofit, licensed organization, dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, young people and their families by providing a specialized continuum of services that enables them to reach their potential. Its pediatric rehabilitation programs are nationally-recognized. The Children’s Institute is the only CARF-accredited freestanding pediatric specialty rehabilitation hospital in the region, and one of only five in the nation. The Day School is an approved private school serving nearly 200 students from 67 school districts. Through Project STAR, The Children’s Institute offers a wide array of family-centered adoption and foster care services. Visit or call 412-420-2400 to learn more.

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