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Highland Hospital plans to open psychiatric facility for children in Charleston

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — A psychiatric treatment facility for children that Highland Hospital plans to open in Charleston will reduce the state's costs for treatment at out-of-state centers, Highland Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Persily said.

Persily outlined plans for the residential treatment facility on Monday during a Kanawha County Board of Education meeting. She told the board that 300 to 500 children in West Virginia are being treated for psychiatric illnesses at out-of-state centers, media outlets reported.

The state pays for these children's treatment. Officials estimate Highland's facility will cut the state's cost in half, Persily said.

"These children have been separated from their family and their community. They're separated from their support system," Persily said. "What we know is we've got lots of children who need those residential services . and we're excited to bring them to Charleston."

Highland expects to open the 24-bed facility in its original hospital in Charleston's Kanawha City neighborhood in early 2015. The hospital moved to an adjacent site in 2012.

Persily said the facility will provide treatment for children ages 4 to 14 who are not ready for outpatient care but do not need acute care.

"These children need something that will allow them to become well enough to move back into their community and be transitioned back into the education system," Persily said. "This model of care facilitates children developing a sense of community so that when they move back, they know how to function."

Kanawha County Schools, which already has a partnership with Highland, will serve as a referral program for the facility.

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