Leaders cut ribbon on Center for Advancement of Youth's new home
Published on Friday, August 16, 2019
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
When patients and their families see the Center for Advancement of Youth’s new location, 20,000 square feet of bright, freshly painted space in northeast Jackson’s Highland Bluff building, Dr. David Elkin hopes they leave with the same impression.
“We want them to get the message that ‘This is for you,’ ” said Elkin, CAY’s executive director and professor of psychiatry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “This beautiful clinic space shows the value that UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi place on the children of this state.”
CAY offers comprehensive, coordinated care across disciplines for children with behavioral or developmental issues from across the state.
The ribbon was cut on the clinic Thursday in a standing-room-only ceremony. A reception and tours of CAY’s exam and observation areas and offices followed.
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, sees the new location as ground zero for advancements in the health of the entire state. “At the Medical Center, it is our mission to improve the health of Mississippians, and we agree that there is no better place to start than with kids.”
The clinic is a symbol of collaboration between pediatrics and psychiatry, said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of pediatrics at UMMC, and Dr. Scott Rodgers, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
“Children are so much more than their medical conditions,” said Taylor, noting the importance of a child’s development and mental health. “We offer the full gamut of treatment, and families can see all of these experts in one location.”
Rodgers said the collaboration and the new CAY location rival the offerings of other academic medical centers in the U.S. “This is something that Mississippi should be extremely proud of,” he said.
Four times the size of CAY’s previous location on Ridgewood Road, the new clinic offers 10 examination rooms. Three dyad rooms, looking much like casual sitting areas, allow space for a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals to observe a child at play while talking with family members.
Four rooms will accommodate Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, a therapy in which a child is in a play situation with a parent, who is wearing an earpiece to hear coaching from psychologists in the next room. The doctors watch through a one-way mirror and listen to the interaction between parent and child, coaching the parent through the situation as it unfolds. The goal is to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship and change interaction patterns.
CAY will also offer physical, occupational and speech therapies so families can get the multiple facets of care their children need in one location. The larger space also facilitates grant-funded research projects and the education and training of the next generation of pediatric health professionals.
Anne Travis, CEO of The Bower Foundation, said the nonprofit joins with CAY as a partner “in serving and lifting up the children of Mississippi.” The foundation helped CAY in its beginning and continues to support its mission.
Numerous studies show that developmental and behavioral screenings and care in early childhood result in better grades and fewer incidences of risky behavior in adolescence. This approach saves money in the long term and allows children to have better outcomes, said Elkin. “When we invest in children, what we’re really investing in is Mississippi’s future."
Dr. Barbara Saunders, chief of the Division of Child Development, knows the clinical experience as a mental health professional and as the mother of a special-needs child.
“We are providing fully integrated, evidence-based care in a place that looks like this,” Saunders said in the spacious waiting area. “As a mother, I am grateful and appreciative.”
Telicia Walker of Pearl got the message Elkin hoped she would. Son Jadyn Willridge, a patient at CAY, is thriving through therapy with developmental pediatrician Dr. Cynthia Field.
“We love the new clinic, and Jadyn’s doing well,” she said. “The space here is so much larger, and it’s so bright. It’s also closer to home for us, and there are plenty of parking spaces.”
“CAY now has a great space,” said Elkin, “But we aren’t stopping there. We will continue to ask, ‘How can we serve our patients and their families better? How can we improve?”