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Linking Mental and Physical Care to Help Ohio Children

PHOTO:An Ohio facility is paving the way in finding the right balance between medical and psychiatric care to help treat young children. Photo: child with mom and doctor. Courtesy of Cincinnati Children's.
PHOTO:An Ohio facility is paving the way in finding the right balance between medical and psychiatric care to help treat young children. Photo: child with mom and doctor. Courtesy of Cincinnati Children's.
October 28, 2013

CINCINNATI, Ohio - Up to one in five children suffers from a mental disorder, but most pediatric facilities have limited mental health resources. However, for 10 years, an Ohio hospital has been balancing the medical and psychiatric needs of young patients.

Cincinnati Children's College Hill Campus is the only residential treatment facility in the state that is integrated into a pediatric hospital. According to the director of the Division of Psychiatry, Dr. Michael Sorter, primary care in pediatrics is where most mental health care is provided, and a patient's progress can suffer without good collaboration.

"The interface between mental health and physical health, it's very closely connected," he explained, "and the more we're able to coordinate care, the more we're able to help children reach their highest functioning level."

Sorter said they are able use a team approach to care that involves the medical and psychiatric perspective, medication management, and the involvement of the patient's family. The College Hill Campus marked its 10th anniversary this month, and recently announced a new inpatient unit - its first expansion in six years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children diagnosed with a mental illness has been rising for more than a decade. Sorter said youngsters suffer from a range of illnesses, including anxiety, eating, attention and mood disorders.

"Regretfully, many of the psychiatric illnesses that we see really begin in childhood or adolescence. So, another important role of the hospital is to be able to perform good assessment services, so good treatment plans can be initiated and maintained over time," Sorter said.

They also focus on experiential therapy, he added, including a horticulture program and an animal program, which help young patients with self-esteem, communication, trust and boundaries.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH