A recent report on the health of families in the neighborhoods surrounding Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) ranked mental health as the No. 1 issue over all other health problems, according to the hospital.
City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, said she is not surprised: “If you think about what happened in West Philadelphia and across the city over the past few years, it kind of feels like we’ve had a decade worth of crises, we’ve had a global pandemic, we are still experiencing a gun violence crisis, we’ve had several uprisings in West Philadelphia and we are experiencing an affordable housing crisis.”
CHOP announced that it had moved its children and adolescent’s Center for Advanced Behavioral Healthcare to a new, 47,000-square-foot space at 4601 Market St. in July, bringing it closer into the West Philadelphia community it serves.
The building was formerly the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building and was temporarily slated to become the new Philadelphia Police Department headquarters, before the it was relocated to 400 N. Broad St.
According to CHOP, the new center will expand a wide range of critical services, such as anxiety, ADHD and eating disorders. The space has been specifically designed for children and will help to create world-class, community-based, hub for behavioral services for young people. It will also help transform the building into a state-of –the-art health care campus that will serve the entire city.
“The new center is going to be our new home for all outpatient services in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry and behavioral sciences,” said Jason A. Lewis, a psychologist and section director of mood, anxiety and trauma disorders at CHOP.
Previously, outpatient practices were spread among various buildings some on Market Street and some down by the main hospital, he said.
“This new center will first and foremost allow us to all be together,” Lewis said. “It will help families who have multiple appointments, help clinicians who collaborate with each other. The space is much larger, including all of the spaces together. It will allow us to grow significantly our services and that’s really exciting.”
The building is convenient because it is next door to the Market–Frankford Line and CHOP’s Karabots Pediatric Care Center, at 48th and Market streets, which provides community-based pediatric primary care.
On Aug. 24, the community was invited for a discussion about the move and the services and a question and answer session at Lucien E. Blackwell Community Center on North 47th Street.
Among the attendees were Gauthier, whose 3rd District includes the center; PHA President/CEO Kelvin Jeremiah and several CHOP clinicians: Dr. Angela Anderson, attending physician; Stephen Soffer, chief of clinical and professional affairs; Alice Mullinary, associate vice president of psychiatric nursing; Alexandra Perloe, clinical director of outpatient services; Stacey Julye, social worker, behavior health services and Jerome Taylor, child and adult psychiatrist.
It was hosted by CHOP and PHA.
“It’s an excellent location and I commend them (CHOP) for coming deeper into West Philadelphia where they can serve multiple neighborhoods,” Gauthier said. “I am appreciative that they recognize the need and people can have more access to the critical services they need.”
According to Lewis, CHOP has several programs to deal with the prevention of trauma, under its Healthier Together initiative, which deals with problems that contribute to trauma in children and adolescents, such as poverty, housing instability, food insecurity. and using financial literacy to address financial stability.
For example, a financial stability program has enabled about 500 families to improve their finances. About 198 West Philadelphia residents have managed to save an average of about $4,000 and have improved their credit scores by about 52 points.
And its PowerCorpsPHL program has trained and hired 157 people through its TRUST and Foundation programs.
“Trauma has always been unfortunately a part of people’s lives and experiences including children and adolescents,” Lewis said. “But over the past 5-10 years we’ve seen significant rise in people’s trauma and diagnosis of PTSD, because of things like the pandemic, racial injustice and the rise of gun violence.”