Hundreds attended Community Health Foundation’s Casino Night on Sept. 7 at Christ the King Lutheran Church Hall in Pinecrest. From prominent community leaders to business owners, everyone came together to roll the dice and spin the roulette wheel with a charitable purpose.
The event raised funding to help Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) move closer to breaking ground on a Children’s Crisis Center at its corporate headquarters, 10300 SW 216 St. Miami, FL 33190.
“We are in desperate need,” Dr. Howard Pratt, child psychiatrist at CHI, told the crowd.
“There are only eight facilities between West Palm Beach and South Miami-Dade that will treat children. That is only 160 beds.”
CHI currently has an adult crisis unit that is not suitable for kids. Yet it receives at least 600 children in crisis a year via Baker Act and families that bring their kids in for help, some families as far away as Key West and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The non-profit healthcare company has to process the child and then transfer them to another facility which can be very difficult given the shortage of available beds for kids. All this can be traumatic for a child suffering from a behavioral health crisis, many of these kids have been abused or are experiencing severe behavioral health issues.
“Last October it just seemed like between Orlando and Miami, hospitals were full, and kids sat in the ER for two days,” Dr. Pratt recalled. “So those families are less likely to seek treatment for their kids now.”
But attendees at CHI Foundation’s Casino Night hope their goodwill will go a long way for these kids. Nearly 40 organizations sponsored the event, attendees bid on trips, an original Salvador Dali painting and fine jewelry, all with the goal of helping to save these children in crisis.
Community Newspapers served as a media sponsor.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava presented CHI with a proclamation at Casino Night declaring that day “Community Health of South Florida Inc. Day” throughout the county to help raise awareness of the issue and mission.
“We are so grateful for the community’s support and partnership in our mission to make this Children’s Crisis Center a reality,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., president and CEO of CHI.
“These families can’t wait any longer. Even if you don’t have a child in crisis, this issue affects you. “These kids go to school with your kid; they grow up and their problems become more intense. They are your neighbors, the person in front of you in the grocery store, your co-worker. Together we need to ensure that there is access to care,” Dr. Hartley added.
Dr. Pratt echoed those concerns
“It is much easier to treat children with very little and change their lives for the better than it is to treat chronically ill adults,” he said.