Upstate Hospital expects wing dedicated to suicidal teenagers to be full the day it opens


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Next week, Upstate Medical University will open its eight-room wing dedicated to children at risk for hurting themselves.

Doctors expect it to be full, with a waiting list started, the day it opens.

From the doorknobs to the furniture, the rooms are designed to protect teenagers in a fragile state of mind, specifically between the ages of 12 and 17.

The wing will include one psychiatrist, one psychologist, a full-time and part-time nurse practitioner, two social workers, an art therapist, a recreational therapist and 30 nurses.

The wing also includes a “comfort room,” filled with colored lights and noise machines designed to calm down a child in an emergency.

One in ten high schoolers attempt suicide each year — a sharp increase compared to ten years ago.

The hallway of the hospital’s new wing looks ordinary, but the rooms and the care that will happen inside them are hard to come by.

Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse, which calls for patients to stay longer than Upstate will, is often at capacity. Hutchings Psychiatric Center is the only similar care facility anywhere in Central New York.

Until Upstate’s unit opens, children in similar crises are taken to hospitals one to three hours away.

While the hospital’s administration acknowledges eight beds won’t solve the problem, they’re celebrating this as the first step.

From the NewsChannel 9 Archives:

2017: Andrew Donovan interviews a mom from Oneida, who contacted the Your Stories team after her son’s elective surgery was cancelled at the last minute. Upstate blamed the cancellation on running out of hospital beds, due to mental health and flu patients.

2018: Upstate University Hospital announces the addition of eight pediatric mental health beds.

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan

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