Anonymous donor gives $25 million to Children's Hospital Los Angeles

General views of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, USC Keck School of Medicine on November 13, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images) (Getty Images)

A $25 million anonymous gift to Children's Hospital Los Angeles will support cognitive, emotional and behavioral health treatments for kids, it was announced Tuesday.

"On behalf of the vulnerable patients who come to Children's Hospital Los Angeles for care, I am incredibly grateful for this transformational gift," CHLA President and CEO Paul S. Viviano said. "This support will help us extend behavioral health services to every child that we treat, and in doing so truly make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable patients, now and in the future."

Hospital officials said they're working to fill the "substantial gaps" that exist in mental and behavioral health services for children and adolescents, who are increasingly experiencing cognitive, emotional and behavioral health conditions, ranging from autism to depression and anxiety.

Despite the growing need, hospital officials said behavioral health services for children have decreased 15-20% in California over the last decade as challenging reimbursement requirements make it difficult for providers to sustain services.

 "This profound act of generosity allows Children's Hospital Los Angeles to significantly advance its ability to address this critically important part of our patients' health and development," said Alexandra Carter, CHLA's senior vice president and chief development officer, "and it comes at an especially crucial time when the COVID-19 pandemic is directly affecting the mental health of nearly every child in the United States and throughout the world."

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CHLA pediatric specialists said the anonymous gift provides CHLA with the capacity to:

• expand access to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral health services;
• expand proactive screening and intervention and prevent hospitalizations;
• create and implement behavioral health training and education for providers, both at CHLA and within the CHLA Care Network;
• leverage technology and research to improve access and efficiency;
• advocate for policies that improve access to behavioral health services; and
• complete the implementation of a behavioral health outpatient program, including the construction of a new outpatient behavioral health clinic.

CHLA already offers a first-of-its-kind post-discharge psychiatry clinic that provides behavioral health care for patients who were initially admitted for other diagnoses. The hospital also has a help line to assist pediatricians in the CHLA Care Network with answers and advice about how to support behavioral health needs. And, since March, tele-psychiatry and virtual counseling has provided more than 1,000 behavioral health visits for children at CHLA.

"This gift will help realize our vision of creating an integrated behavioral health care delivery model, bringing together the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, developmental behavioral pediatrics and social work to serve thousands of children," said Ashish Buttan, CHLA's executive director of Neurosciences and Behavioral Health. "The entire behavioral health team is proud that the world-class medical and surgical care for which Children's Hospital Los Angeles is known will be complemented by comprehensive behavioral health services for all of our patients."