New Center To Hold Open House

WHEELING – An open house to unveil to the public the new $6 million Robert C. Byrd Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health Center is slated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 10.

A ribbon cutting ceremony with local dignitaries is planned at 9 a.m. the same day at the center, located adjacent to Ohio Valley Medical Center, 2000 Eoff St. Center Director Rick Buckelew said the facility will start receiving patients Jan. 15.

It will help children 5-12 years old and adolescents 13 years old up to 18 who are still in high school. The are separate wards for each age group. There also is a third unit that can be used for an overflow of patients or children who need closer observation.

The center will replace OVMC’s current mental health center, HillCrest. Buckelew noted the new facility is an inpatient unit where children will typically stay for no more than eight days at one time. The hospital currently has 18 beds for children who are psychiatric patients, while the new facility has 30. HillCrest opened in 1973 and was built to accommodate adults only. The new facility will serve both boys and girls who live within a 100-mile radius of Wheeling.

”The mental health system hasn’t been keeping up with the need,” Buckelew said, adding the demand for services has increased steadily during the past 10 years. ”I think we’re going to have a great program here.”

The facility includes a gymnasium with a basketball court where other physical education classes will be held, such as yoga. Playground equipment also will be installed in an outdoor courtyard.

Children will be treated for a variety of issues including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and those with self-mutilating behavior. Some children have oppositional defiant behavior, which means they won’t follow instructions, are aggressive and sometimes hit their parents. He noted they do not typically treat children with drug or alcohol issues there. The children are often brought for treatment by their parents, from group homes or by the state after being rescued from abusive homes.

While in office, the late Sen. Robert Byrd secured $5.7 million for the project because children often had to leave the area for mental health treatment. The remainder of the project was covered by OVMC’s operating fund.