DAYTON, Ohio — Dayton Children’s Hospital is changing the way doctors see patients thanks to a $5 million donation from The Connor Group Kids and community partners, part of a Dayton real estate investment firm.
“What this investment really allows us to do is really think more broadly beyond just the physical care of a condition like asthma," said Dr. Jonathan Thackeray, the chief medical officer of Population Health for Dayton Children's Hospital. "So, when I see a child with asthma in the clinic, I can’t just focus on the asthma. I need to focus on how the asthma is impacting the child’s behavioral health.”
The investment, which Dayton Children’s will raise $3 million in matching funds, will allow for the hiring of more professionals and a switch in mindset for the doctors to think more of mental and behavioral health in addition to just physical health. That’s because one in five children in the nation will need care for mental health this year, and that number continues to grow, according to the hospital.
“Those numbers are all skyrocketing, and so like I said, this investment could not come at a better time because as those numbers increase. We need to not only address the issues as they arise but really think about how to get upstream and prevent those behavioral health issues from getting so severe in the first place," Thackeray said.
The investment will allow for private counseling to about 4,000 children during wellness visits and intensive outpatient therapy to an additional 1,400 kids. Pediatricians in the area say kids especially need this type of treatment now after all Dayton has gone through in the last year and the ongoing pandemic.
“Children are dealing with things that haven’t had to before," Thackeray said. "There’s more exposure to media and social media and so there’s more information that children have access to than they ever have before. And at the same time, you’ve got a series of unfortunate or tragic events inner region between the tornados of 2019 and the violence in the Oregon district.”
Changes at the hospital have already been made and it hopes to be fully transitioned to the new model in the next year. The hospital believes the new program could be the blueprint for treatment at hospitals across the country.