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KVC Hospitals

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What to Expect When Admitting Your Child to a Psychiatric Hospital

admission to a psychiatric hospital

Deciding to admit a child to a psychiatric hospital can be a tough but necessary decision for parents and caregivers. Many times, these youth need help from professionals to manage their experiences with depression, anxiety, trauma or disruptive and dangerous behaviors.

It’s natural for family members to have many questions prior to and during admission, so we asked Eric Marley, Admissions Coordinator at KVC Hospitals, to explain the process and answer some frequently asked questions that parents and caregivers have.

Learn more about receiving treatment at one of our inpatient acute hospitals.

Eric Marley of KVC Hospitals


Q: How does the process of admitting a child to a psychiatric hospital start?

Eric Marley: The process typically starts with a phone call from a parent or caregiver or as a referral from a hospital or community mental health center. At KVC Hospitals, our admissions staff gathers information about the child to determine if psychiatric treatment is the right option. If the child meets the criteria for admission, transportation is arranged to bring him or her to our facility.

Q: What can youth bring with them to the hospital?

Marley: Youth receiving short-term, acute psychiatric inpatient treatment should bring a medication list to provide to our pharmacy. If the child requires a specific medication such as an inhaler, antibiotics, or allergy medicine, they should bring that with them. For acute hospitalization, clothing is provided by the hospital, as well as undergarments and hygiene products. For residential treatment, the youth should bring undergarments and a week worth of clothing, shoes and any other items deemed important like books or photos. If the child has sensitive skin or a contact allergy, they should bring the correct body wash, lotion or laundry detergent that is medically needed.

Q: What happens after arriving at the hospital?

Marley: Upon arrival, an intake coordinator or a nurse meets the child and family in our lobby entrance and escorts them to one of our visiting rooms to complete the admissions paperwork and go over any questions the family may have regarding their child’s treatment at our hospital, including:

  • specific treatment the child needs
  • what services the child will receive
  • hours to call or visit with the child
  • education and recreation
  • family involvement in decision-making
  • who to contact with questions or concerns
  • and much more
Admissions Nurse Kate - admission to a psychiatric hospital

Admissions Nurse Kate

Our admissions nurse reviews the child’s medication list and notes any special needs or dietary instructions. Depending on the time of day, an admissions therapist will either meet with the family or call that evening to provide more extensive information about the child’s treatment.

Family members are given information for contacting the child, including phone number and a privacy code for those on the approved contact list to use within 24 hours of being admitted. Once all questions have been answered and all information has been covered, families are given time for hugs and goodbyes. The child is then taken upstairs to our hospital unit where they meet with additional support staff and get acquainted with the unit.

Q: Does each youth have his or her own room?

Marley: In most cases, each youth will have a roommate. Bedroom assignments are based on gender and age to ensure safety among peers.

Q: How long are the youth in treatment for?

Marley: Length of stay is determined by the type of treatment the child needs. Typically, youth require either acute psychiatric inpatient treatment (short-term care typically ranging from 3-7 days) or residential treatment (45-60 days). Click here to learn more about acute and residential treatment.

Q: When can family members call or visit with their child?

Marley: Phone calls with your child can occur in the evenings and on weekends by calling the KVC Hospitals main phone number. Visits are scheduled with therapists or nurses in the evenings and weekends but we do allow some exceptions.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who is considering KVC Hospitals for help?

Marley: We know that most people never imagine themselves at a psychiatric hospital, but it can be the best place for youth who are going through the worst time in their lives. Our staff are passionate and committed to providing a high level of care and treatment to each of our clients. Everyone that walks through our doors can feel confident that KVC Hospitals creates a safe, healing environment for youth so they can safely return home with the skills needed to lead a healthy life.

If you know a child or young adult struggling with depression, self-harm, or other behavioral health issues, contact our psychiatric hospitals to learn about treatment at (913) 890-7468, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately.