Taking Care of Family, Clients & Community for Three Decades
Let's Connect

Lee Health introduces Kids’ Minds Matter as Southwest Florida’s official children’s mental and behavioral health solution

New $10 million community-wide campaign to bring new four-tiered model of care, change landscape of pediatric mental illness in region

Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida today announced a new $10 million campaign to support Kids’ Minds Matter, the region’s new strategic solution for bringing improved access to care for families and providing a framework to connect community partners.

“Kids’ Minds Matter has already funded new diagnostic and treatment protocols that will roll out in the community in the coming months, providing much-needed early intervention services for young people dealing with anxiety, depression and trauma,” said Skip Leonard, chief foundation officer at the Lee Health Foundation. “We are so pleased to announce Kids’ Minds Matter as the new face of pediatric mental and behavioral health in the Southwest Florida region where an estimated 46,000 local children struggle with these invisible illnesses. The dollars raised and the new partnerships formed through Kids’ Minds Matter ultimately will help these families access the level of care they need.”

Lee Health recently participated in a regional “Syntegration” exercise involving top clinical and administrative leaders in the fields of health care, education, law enforcement, judicial and nonprofit organizations.

“Kids’ Minds Matter has opened the dialogue to a wider group of community leaders, and as we share our collective expertise, we will develop strategies to better serve the youth of Southwest Florida,” said John Chomeau, chief population health officer at Lee Health. “This foundational effort not only will change the future for these children, but also our community, as we address an issue that for far too long was not a priority.”

With an emphasis on delivering the “right care at the right place and time,” Kids’ Minds Matter is developing the Golisano Center of Excellence for Pediatric Mental Health and a four-tiered model of care that clinically aligns the community, inpatient and outpatient care:

  • Tier 1: Early to moderate intervention level involving surveillance, detection and treatment, generally at the pediatrician level.
  • Tier 2: Technology as a resource in the delivery of mental health services to reduce stigma and decrease traditional barriers like transportation and scheduling.
  • Tier 3: A seamless escalation of services to include in-patient counseling and medical management model protocol.
  • Tier 4: Acute or urgent care that involves inpatient or intensive outpatient services.

Chomeau also announced a new hire to help lead the effort. As vice president of mental and behavioral health for Lee Health’s Center for Population Health, Dr. Paul Simeone is charged with aligning the four-tiered model and incorporating best practices into the overall wellness plan for children with mental illness in the region.

Kids’ Minds Matter was founded in 2016 by Susan Goldy and Scott Spiezle, whose daughter struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide at an early age. After consulting a pediatric mental health specialist, they began to understand the issues and helped their daughter seek treatment. Seeing their daughter overcome those issues and progress into adulthood, the couple sought ways to enhance diagnosis and treatment in Southwest Florida.

Last year, Kids’ Minds Matter raised more than $3 million to provide local children with access to physicians and mental health services. Already, Golisano Children’s Hospital has started training local pediatricians in managing depression and anxiety through the REACH program, with 43 pediatricians trained to date, done in collaboration with SalusCare and Southwest Florida Community Foundation. Additionally, certified child advocates are actively teaching those who directly work with children and youth such as emergency services, pediatricians and school nurses as well as Golisano staff. Parenting courses within the community are also being offered, and the team is addressing freshmen at Florida SouthWestern State College with a focus on suicide prevention.

“For children, it’s especially important to diagnose the problem as early as possible to avoid years of poor behavioral health choices, self-harm and self-loathing that can accompany mental illness.,” said Armando Llechu, chief administrative officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “With support from Southwest Florida Children’s Charities, we have already begun addressing the psychological needs of hospital patients and are expanding our outpatient footprint; working with community partners, adding additional psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health counselors to the Golisano Children’s Hospital team. We are also introducing our newly renovated outpatient center where our pediatric behavioral health team will address patients’ needs in a therapeutic setting.”

In 2019, Kids’ Minds Matter will help Lee Health launch a first-of-its-kind TelePsych program that allows Southwest Florida families to receive advice and counseling on mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression and trauma via digital devices.

On March 6, the Lee Health Foundation will host its Secret Garden Gala at historic Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs, a Kids’ Minds Matter fundraising event that offers guests an elegant evening of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, a seated dinner from Crave Culinaire, a live auction, entertainment as well as status updates on pediatric behavioral health in the region and opportunities for philanthropic support.

For more information or to donate, please visit KidsMindsMatter.com or call 239-343-6950.

For information regarding mental health services at Golisano Children’s Hospital, call 239-343-6050.

About Golisano Children’s Hospital

Established in 1994, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has been named a “Top Hospital” by The Leapfrog Group for the past two years. It is the only recognized children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami. Lee Health opened the new 128-bed Golisano Children’s Hospital in May 2017, relocating the children’s hospital from the adjacent HealthPark Medical Center. It includes comprehensive pediatric services including a 24-hour pediatric emergency department, hematology-oncology unit, milk lab, Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center, and Level II and Level III NICU with 64 private rooms. Golisano Children’s Hospital is proud to have been named Soliant’s 2018 Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S., a recognition determined by popular vote. For more information, visit GolisanoChildrensSWFL.org.

About Lee Health

Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Formerly known as Lee Memorial Health System, the organization began its second century of service with a new name in 2016. Learn more at www.LeeHealth.org.

About Lee Health Foundation

Lee Health Foundation raises philanthropic dollars on behalf of Lee Health, including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The Foundation provides financial support for many service areas including the Regional Cancer Center, Lee Health – Coconut Point, The Rehabilitation Hospital, Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, Community Health Clinics and Golisano Children’s Hospital Specialty Clinics in both Port Charlotte and Naples. Over the past two years, the Foundation has distributed more than $53 million to Lee Health to support its lifesaving mission. Please visit LeeHealthFoundation.org or call (239) 343-6950 for more information.

Share now!

More To Explore