Golisano Children’s Hospital Opens New Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care Center

Facility will help children get immediate mental health care, avoid trips to the ED

Today, Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) leaders, faculty, staff, and donors cut the ribbon on a new pediatric behavioral health urgent care center, the first of its kind in upstate New York.

The new Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care Center is the area’s first-ever walk-in mental health clinic for young people up to the age of 18, who can show up with no prior appointment to get care. Supported with $1 million from the Brighter Days Foundation, the facility will open for patients on July 15.

Messenbaugh with two youths on a trip to Japan in 1976.
Michael Scharf, MD

“There are no clinics like this outside of the New York City region, and we’re thrilled that we will be able to provide this vital service for thousands of children in Western New York,” said Michael Scharf, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief at GCH. “Everything we do at the clinic will be family-centered, with the goal of providing immediate and safe mental health care so that children can avoid trips to the emergency room and long wait times for outpatient services.”

The center will serve walk-in patients from noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Scharf anticipates that Brighter Days will see up to 3,000 patients per year. The clinic’s 15 patient rooms will be staffed by 30 caregivers, including mental health counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, case managers and support staff.

Caregivers at Brighter Days will provide a range of walk-in services:

  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Safety planning
  • Crisis intervention (e.g., coping skills development and coaching)
  • Family-centered support
  • Linkage to appropriate community and educational resources
Messenbaugh with two youths on a trip to Japan in 1976.
Linda Alpert-Gillis, PhD

Linda Alpert-Gillis, PhD, director of Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness stresses that family input was essential in the design of the center and what it will offer.

“For families in crisis, the environment where they receive care needs to be welcoming, respectful, and peaceful,” she said. “Brighter Days will help families feel comfortable while partnering with clinicians and other providers to get the support they need.”

Brighter Days Foundation director Annette Weld said her organization came forward to help fund this project in order to address the urgency of the behavioral health crisis.

“This gift will address the national crisis in child and adolescent mental health on a local level,” said Weld. “We don’t have time to sit around and discuss the problem without action, and it is exciting to see the changes coming. There is still a lot of work to be done and more funds to raise, but we are seeing movement in a positive way and that is great!”

This gift will address the national crisis in child and adolescent mental health on a local level.

In addition to providing immediate services to children experiencing a non-emergency mental health crisis, Brighter Days will also have a dedicated vehicle for children who lack transportation to the clinic. Donated by West Herr Ford of Rochester, the transportation vehicle will be available for patients and caregivers who are identified by a triage team through URMC’s mental health crisis call line.

The opening of the Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care Center represents the continuation of GCH’s ongoing efforts to address the behavioral health crisis happening both nationally and in Monroe County. In June of 2020, the Golisano Behavioral Health and Wellness center opened on South Avenue in Rochester. Established with a generous gift from Tom Golisano and constructed over several years, the building was intended to immediately double access for outpatient care in the region.

The Golisano Behavioral Health and Wellness center has delivered on that promise, significantly easing the burden of long waitlists in Monroe County. When the building was constructed, the waitlist for services was nearly 400 patients. Today, the average for the county is 100, and in combination with the Mobile Crisis Unit, the center has helped prevent severe outcomes and emergency department visits for children.

Brighter Days will provide vital support to children in the region, according to Jill Halterman, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of GCH.

“Dr. Scharf and his team had the foresight to proactively identify and address the increasing need for pediatric behavioral health services in our community more than a decade ago,” said Halterman. “The Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care Center will be an incredibly valuable resource for children and will serve a major need that was identified by families and members of our community.”

Blaine Hayward Collins, a 14-year-old high school student in Victor Central Schools and former patient at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has found support through the institution’s programs and hopes this facility will help people like him get needed treatment in a welcoming environment.

“I believe that this new facility will be a great addition to the University of Rochester and the way they help children and adolescents, making it easier to get through tough times and to provide even better quality and easier access to help for youth like me,” said Blaine.

Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care

This Walk-in Clinic offers evaluations and interventions to help young people up to age 18 and their families who are experiencing acute distress. Families and caregivers are encouraged, but not required, to call the UR Medicine Crisis Call Line at (585) 275-8686 where they will speak to a mental health professional before walking in to the Urgent Care. This can help you get access to the right care right away.

About Brighter Days