CHI CELEBRATES A “VIRTUAL GROUNDBREAKING” FOR THE FIRST CHILDREN’S CRISIS CENTER IN SOUTHERN MIAMI DADE AND MONROE COUNTIES

MIAMI  – On May 27 at 10am, Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) will celebrate a virtual groundbreaking for the first Children’s Crisis Center in southern Miami Dade and Monroe Counties to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CHI cancelled its anticipated ceremony last month. However, in light of the current situation, CHI decided to move forward with the project given that children’s suicide rates and mental health issues continue to be on the rise. The virtual gathering launched the construction of the 20-room facility designed to help children suffering from severe mental illness. The facility will be located adjacent to CHI’s headquarters, located at 10300 SW 216 St., Miami, FL 33190.  Viewers can watch the video and give to the cause starting at 10am on May 27 on the landing page www.chisouthfl.org/groundbreaking.

The virtual ceremony includes a traditional shovel ceremony, speeches by CHI’s President and CEO, Brodes H. Hartley Jr., as well as notable representatives such as Miami Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Child Advocate David Lawrence and foster mom, Miss Alina.

“The need for a children’s crisis center is extremely important– now more than ever. We continue to see children suffering from behavioral health issues,” said Brodes H. Hartley, Jr., President and CEO of CHI.  “The global pandemic we are all facing has also made children at risk even more susceptible to mental crisis, and that is why we are committed to seeing this center built.”

The need for intensive mental health treatment for kids has never been greater. Yet access to in-patient intensive behavioral healthcare is lacking, leaving far too many families in difficult positions during a crisis. More than 80 children a month are brought to CHI’s adult crisis center, which is not equipped to treat kids. Even during the pandemic that number has remained consistent and families with children in distress continue to seek out help.

The single-story ground level facility is expected to accommodate more than 1000 children each year and house a team of board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, social workers, counselors and mental health clinicians ready to offer comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems. The 11,400 square foot building will provide 24-hour, comprehensive mental health care for children up to 17 years of age, regardless of their ability to pay. The construction of the building is projected to take about 18 months.

Earlier this year, CHI has launched a $5.5 million fundraising campaign to help fund the construction of the much-needed crisis center, and to date has raised $2.2 million.  Now more than ever, this critical project will take the entire community’s support and that’s why the campaign continues to seek philanthropic support for the new crisis center.

According to the University of South Florida’s Baker Act Reporting Center, in the year following the Marjory Stoneman High School shooting in Parkland, the state’s deadliest school shooting in history, more kids were Baker Acted than ever before in the state. More than 36,000 kids under the age of 18 were sent for involuntary psychiatric evaluations under the state’s Baker Act law, according to newly released data. The numbers have nearly doubled since 2001.

Since 1971, CHI has been a beacon of hope providing access to high quality healthcare for all regardless of insurance status, income level or background. The non-profit federally qualified health center offers comprehensive healthcare services including primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN, dental, urgent care, behavioral health, vision, radiology, pharmacy, transportation and telehealth services. CHI has 11 health centers and 35 school-based sites. CHI is a recipient of the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and is also designated as a patient centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. CHI is designated as a behavioral health medical home. In addition, CHI is home to the Brodes H. Hartley Jr., Teaching Health Center, training the next generation of doctors in primary care and psychiatry.