Psychiatric care center for Delaware youths to close



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NEWARK, Del. (AP) — A Newark hospital plans to shutter a psychiatric care center for youths later this month, drawing criticism from some parents, advocates and medical professionals.

The News Journal reports (http://delonline.us/1ESpnKf ) that Christiana Care Health System will close the Herman Rosenblum Child and Adolescent Center on Feb. 20. The hospital also will progressively close its outpatient psychiatric services.

The closure is part of the hospital's plan to move psychologists, social workers and therapists who work for Christiana Care's outpatient psychiatric program and the Rosenblum Center into primary care practices to diagnose mental illness earlier and more effectively, the hospital said.

The center is no longer taking new patients and Delaware residents who utilize the adult services will be assessed on a one-on-one basis if they need continued treatment, hospital officials said. Some patients will be referred to other community providers if they need additional support.

"Each one is going to have a care plan and transition plan that makes sense," said Linda Lang, Christiana Care's director of psychiatric services. "We are not going to leave anybody stranded."

The Rosenblum center offered intensive three- to eight-week treatment programs for students between 12 and 18 years old. About 15 to 20 students were treated at any one time.

Christiana Care CEO Janice Nevin said the change will increase access to mental health care by placing therapists in about 15 primary care practices from Wilmington to Middletown. The hospital also is hiring two new psychiatrists and two nurse practitioners, she said.

"The goal is same-day access for any new issues that may come up, but there will be ongoing therapy sessions," she said.

News of the center's closure is drawing some criticism.

"It broke my heart a little bit to hear it," said Anthony Alfano of Newark.

Alfano, 19, said he didn't think he was going to make it to his 18th birthday. He said he was battling intense depression and considered hurting himself before he got help at the Rosenblum center.

"Honestly, it saved my life," he said. "I love the therapists and everyone that works in that facility ... They cared about every single one of us that came in there. Even when we didn't care."

Mental health advocates are questioning whether the center's closure is best for patients and providers.

Beth Krieger, an alcohol and drug addiction counselor who referred patients to the center, said it was disturbing to see such a program cut because there are already limited services in Delaware.

"If we have a kid in crisis we are going to be out of luck," she said. "Kids now are just under so much stress. It's just really distressing to a lot of parents to know that their child doesn't have that as a resource."

There are two similar adolescent programs in the area, but some parents say they don't compare to what the Rosenblum center offered.

"I am just in shock," said Julie, a parent whose 15-year-old daughter transitioned out of Rosenblum in January after being enrolled for about four weeks. She declined to give her last name to protect her daughter's privacy.

She said her daughter cried when she found out the program would no longer be offered.

"She immediately bonded with other kids her age that had similar situations," she said. "It's more like a school environment. She felt very safe."

An online petition to lobby the Christiana Care board of directors to change their minds on closing the center had close to 1,000 supporters by Sunday night.

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com

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The Associated Press

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