Strategic Moves Aim to Improve Mental Health Care Access for Youth
September 26, 2020
McLean Hospital recently began relocating several of its youth programs. These moves are designed to help expand much-needed access to mental health services and enhance collaboration among our clinicians.
According to Michael Macht-Greenberg, PhD, MPH, senior director of the Simches Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, patients, families, and staff will all benefit from these moves.
“We’re excited about being able to provide more care,” said Macht-Greenberg. “These are programs where we’ve been running waiting lists for a long time—anywhere from weeks to months of wait, depending on the program. That’s a hardship. That’s very difficult for the families and frankly, hard for the intake staff.”
These expansions will be leveraged in a measured, thoughtful way, added Philip G. Levendusky, PhD, ABPP, senior vice president of Business Development and Communications. He said that this “not too big, not too small approach” will enable us to maintain an unparalleled quality of care while helping more kids and their families.
The potential collaborations afforded by the moves—bringing related programs closer together—will also be a boon to providing effective care.
“The synergy is a big part of it,” said Macht-Greenberg. “We’re interested in seeing how like-minded programs could get together and partner in ways that could be meaningful and add value for the kids.”
Moving to Arlington
The availability of an ideal setting for expansion—a charming, modernized three-acre campus in nearby Arlington, Massachusetts—was the driving force for these strategic moves.
“The facility is very attractive,” said Levendusky, “and it was designed and built to be an adolescent treatment facility.” He added that the buildings, located in a quiet Arlington Heights neighborhood, have “wide hallways, nice-size rooms, good light.”
The site was most recently the home of the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus programs, which, for many years, served girls and young women with emotional and behavioral health conditions. This history has helped to make our move to Arlington a welcome one.
Michele L. Gougeon, MSS, MSc, executive vice president and chief operating officer of McLean, explained that the Arlington Heights residents understand the importance of mental health care and are used to having those services delivered in their neighborhood.
“Arlington has been a very positive experience,” said Gougeon. “They’re very supportive of providing services to children and adolescents. You couldn’t have asked for a nicer introduction to a neighborhood.”
New Locations, Same Services
Among the first youth programs that have moved to Arlington are the 3East residential programs—the 3East Boys Intensive Program and 3East Girls Intensive Program—and the 3East Partial Hospital Program. These services, which focus on the use of dialectical behavior therapy, provide care for adolescents and young adults with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Each 3East program will provide care in its own recently renovated building. This will afford privacy for the patients but also, due to the proximity of the buildings, promote collaboration among the 3East clinical staff. The 3East residential programs will also be able to offer services to more patients in this new setting.
Pathways Academy, a therapeutic day school for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders, has also moved from Belmont to the Arlington campus. This will be the first opportunity for the Pathways kids and staff to have their own building—and to be in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity because parents would much prefer to have their children in a school in a community, just like everybody else’s kid,” said Macht-Greenberg.
While the moves will benefit the 3East programs and Pathways, it will also leave behind valuable space for the OCDI Jr. program. OCDI Jr. cares for children and adolescents ages 10-18 with moderate to severe or treatment-resistant obsessive compulsive disorder.
The OCDI Jr. program will expand its partial hospital service and add other specialized services after moving from Middleborough to Belmont. The program will fill the vacant space left by the departure of Pathways Academy from the first floor of East House.
The OCDI Jr. relocation will also bring the program to a location steps away from its partner program for adults, the OCD Institute. This will offer tremendous potential for enhancing clinical and research relationships.
Looking to the Future
And these numerous benefits for our youth programs are just the start of something even bigger.
The next major step in advancing and expanding youth mental health care at McLean is the development of a stand-alone child and adolescent academic and residential campus in Belmont. By acquiring the space in Arlington, we will be able to better satisfy demands for care while we work toward this goal of consolidating all of our child and adolescent services.
“Programs have grown, and research has expanded,” said Gougeon. “We’re glad that this opportunity in Arlington came along to help us expand our services in preparation for the new campus development.”
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