Care for kids has comforts of home

Children’s psychiatric facility in Warren second of its kind in Ohio

WARREN — Expanding its reach in the Mahoning Valley, Belmont Pines Hospital opened a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility in Warren, only the second in the state.

The facility, which opened in February, offers intensive inpatient services to children who have various mental health issues and don’t have other placement options, according to Sarah Saunders, PRTF director. The goal of a PRTF is to stabilize or improve a child’s condition through therapeutic services until the child no longer needs them.

Intensive care for children with more complex behavioral health needs is offered.

The treatment facility is a result of Gov. Mike DeWine’s initiative to open a psychiatric residential treatment facility “as a new level of care in the state of Ohio,” Eric Kennedy, CEO of Belmont Pines, said.

The other PRTF in Ohio is in Columbus.

Although the local facility is a big step for providing care to youths, Saunders said that there “are just not as many services or locations as we need in the state of Ohio.”

Located on the campus of the Children’s Services Board in Warren, Belmont Pines leases the Reeves Road building from Trumbull County Children Services Board.

Nikki Hazlett, residential administrator for Trumbull County CSB, said the building belongs to TCCSB and was vacant prior to Belmont Pines leasing it.

Kennedy said Belmont Pines is grateful TCCSB was willing to rent them the building and that the Trumbull County commissioners approved the building’s use.

Patients between the ages of 6 and 12 are treated at the Warren cottage, which has six private rooms.

“The goal is for the average stay to be about six months,” Saunders said.

Each child living in the cottage has their own bedroom but has community dinners, classes and study times.

This, Saunders said, is more like a “home environment as opposed to being in a facility with 30 kids.”

Westwood Preparatory Academy administers the on-site school program. Families are welcome to visit and several support people work with the children.

Therapy includes field trips as well as the chance to socialize with other residents.

“There are group sessions that include games,” Saunders said.

Rebecca Bayley, Belmont Pines director of business development, described the interior of the cottage as “very inviting. There are inspirational sayings, superstars galore decorating the living areas.”

Children are accepted into the facility based on the nature of their psychiatric diagnoses.

PRTF is a Medicaid service and children are referred there by Aetna, the managed care plan operating as Ohio Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence (OhioRise) program. No private insurance covers this program. It is available only to those patients who qualify for Medicaid.

Parents can call Belmont Pines or reach out to their caseworker to find out more information about the program, Bayley said.

“Though Belmont Pines does not directly refer or admit children to the PRTF cottage, we can help parents find needed information if they are interested in this program,” she said.

Kennedy said there is an increased need for this level of intensive treatment for children with behavioral disorders. Causes for the increased need include the drug epidemic as well as children being removed from their homes for several reasons.

“This innovative approach to treatment is more family style, more like a home environment of treatment,” Kennedy said. “We would like to offer that again in some other locations because it is beneficial for children to utilize this brand-new treatment program in the state of Ohio.”

With its calm, inviting atmosphere, the PRTF is doing its job.

“So far, we are getting great results even after being open for a few months,” Saunders said. “Our children are enjoying being children while also getting very individualized treatment. Our staff came from the main building. They can also see that this treatment model for select children absolutely has the benefit.”

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