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Sheba Launches First-of-its-Kind Program for Pediatric Psychiatric Care 

Unlike other areas of pediatric care such as oncology, most child psychiatry wards around the world do not require or want parents to stay with their child during treatment. Multiple studies have shown that this separation induces stress and trauma for parents and can cause distrust between and medical staff. In addition, children find it harder to integrate into the ward, reducing the efficiency of treatment and even worsening behavioral issues.

Recognizing the problems with pediatric psychiatry, Sheba launched its new Child Psychiatry Center for children between the ages of 6-12, led by Prof. Doron Gothelf. The center pioneers a unique approach whereby parents stay at the center -sharing the same room- with their child for the first week of treatment, easing the integration process. After the first week, the children stay and the parents transition to a regular visiting schedule. This is a unique model – among the first of its kind in the world- that is now being considered by other medical centers.

A study published in the European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Journal, highlighted the positive results of this new approach. The study found that the first shared week of stay reduced the levels of stress and trauma for parents, comforting them and helping them adapt to the prospect of separation from their child. In addition, parents were more trustful of the physicians taking care of their children, reporting more awareness of the treatment and process.

“Having your child hospitalized can be an incredibly stressful, traumatic and worrying event, especially when it is for psychiatric treatment,” said Prof. Doron Gothelf, Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit. “We want child psychiatry to be treated like any other pediatric care, granting parents more access and control. We are delighted to see the fantastic results from this study and positive feedback from parents. Our model is quickly gaining popularity among the international the child psychology community, serving as a guide for other health systems to adapt. ”

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