Anonymous Donor Gives $25 Million to Support and Expand Behavioral Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Published on 
January 26, 2021

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LOS ANGELES (January 26, 2021) — A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has provided a landmark $25 million gift to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to support the cognitive, emotional and behavioral health needs of CHLA patients.

“On behalf of the vulnerable patients who come to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for care, I am incredibly grateful for this transformational gift,” says Paul S. Viviano, CHLA President and CEO. “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.”

Children with complex and chronic health conditions often demonstrate an increased need for behavioral health interventions to support their overall well-being and sustain better health outcomes. Substantial gaps exist for mental and behavioral health services for children and adolescents, and rates of cognitive, emotional and behavioral health conditions are steadily increasing (e.g. autism, other developmental disabilities, ADHD, and depression/anxiety). Over the last decade, behavioral health services for children have decreased 15-20% in California as challenging reimbursement levels make it difficult for providers to sustain services. Children and families are left without resources.

“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,” says Alexandra Carter, CHLA 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.”

CHLA pediatric specialists are seeing increases in anxiety and depression among patients as a direct consequence of social isolation from the pandemic, loss of routine, school closures, as well as the effects of COVID-19-related parental physical, emotional and economic distress.

The anonymous gift provides CHLA with the capacity not only to sustain but to grow its behavioral health footprint by:

  • Expanding access to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral health services for patients across the hospital
  • Expanding proactive screening and intervention which will help children and youth avoid hospitalization
  • Creating and implementing behavioral health training and education for providers, both at CHLA and within the CHLA Care Network
  • Leveraging technology and research to improve access and efficiency
  • Advocating at the local, state and national levels for policies that improve access to behavioral health services for children and adolescents
  • Completing implementation of new behavioral health outpatient program, including the construction of a new outpatient behavioral health clinic

Building on Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ existing cognitive, emotional, mental and behavioral health services, the hospital was already in the process of launching a sophisticated set of behavioral health services and made significant headway after the start of the pandemic. The goal has been to ensure that every patient referred to CHLA with another primary diagnosis has access to behavioral health to support their overall health and well-being. This has included:

  • Launching a first-of-its-kind post-discharge psychiatry clinic that provides appropriate behavioral health care for patients who were initially admitted for other diagnoses
  • Implementing a help line to assist pediatrician members of the CHLA Care Network with answers and advice regarding how best to support behavioral health needs in the community
  • Adding additional caregivers including psychiatrists, a psychologist, nurse practitioners, social workers and more
  • Developing a Virtual Behavioral Health Program that provides tele-psychiatry and virtual counseling, relied upon by patients for medication management, anxiety, depression and autism

Since March, CHLA has provided more than a thousand behavioral health visits for children and youth through these new program additions. 

In reimagining how to provide all children with behavioral health care, CHLA has taken a unique approach to bridge teams and created a multidisciplinary Behavioral Health Implementation Team to ensure that both the physical and psychosocial well-being of patients is on everyone’s mind.

“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,” says Ashish Buttan, CHLA’s Executive Director of Neurosciences and Behavioral Health, who is leading the development and implementation of the Behavioral Health Initiative. “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.”


About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Founded in 1901, Children's Hospital Los Angeles is the highest-ranked children’s hospital in California and fifth in the nation on the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of best children’s hospitals. U.S. News ranks Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in all 10 specialty categories. Clinical care at the hospital is led by physicians who are faculty members of the Keck School of Medicine of USC through an affiliation dating from 1932. The hospital also operates the largest pediatric residency training program at a freestanding children’s hospital in the Western United States. The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is home to all basic, translational, clinical and community research conducted at the hospital, allowing proven discoveries to quickly reach patients. Our mission: to create hope and build healthier futures. To learn more, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, and visit our blog at CHLA.org/blog.