Emergency behavioral health services
At Cohen Children's Medical Center, we have the only freestanding emergency department (ED) in the region dedicated exclusively to treating children. All kids who visit our ED are cared for by board-certified emergency medicine pediatric doctors and pediatric emergency medicine nurses. For those in need of psychiatric care, our pediatric emergency psychiatry team operates a dedicated behavioral health area within the ED, as well as a behavioral health urgent care center on the lobby level of Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The pediatric emergency psychiatry team evaluates children through the age of 17 and coordinates care with the pediatric emergency medicine team. Our goal is to evaluate your child thoroughly and efficiently to make sure they get the appropriate care. We strive to make your patient experience as pleasant as possible.
Please note, if your child has a mental health issue that requires immediate attention but not necessarily the services of the ED, please visit our Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center instead.
When children visit the ED for behavioral health services, they may be seen by the following members of our team:
- Registered nurse (RN) who specializes in pediatric emergency nursing
- Board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist (a supervising doctor who leads the behavioral health team that diagnoses and treats your child)
- Pediatric emergency medicine doctor
- Pediatric nurse practitioner
- Pediatric social worker (provides emotional support, crisis intervention and referral services for families in need)
- Child life specialist
- Patient engagement specialist with specialized training in crisis prevention/ intervention techniques to support patient and staff safety
- Patient care assistant (PCA)/ED tech
What to expect
When you and your child visit the ED for behavioral health services, a nurse will conduct a brief assessment to determine the reason for your visit and initiate the registration and triage process. Once you are checked in, a triage nurse will check vital signs and determine the severity of your child’s condition. You will then proceed to the behavioral health area, where your child will be evaluated by the behavioral health and pediatric emergency medicine teams.
The area you will be directed to depends on the severity of your child’s symptoms. This means you may be sent to one of our behavioral health areas in the ED or may be offered a visit to the behavioral health urgent care center when appropriate.
- The order in which patients are seen is based on the seriousness of their symptoms. This means that patients who arrive after you may be seen before you.
- Once your initial exam is complete, you may be moved out of the exam room. This allows us to see more patients who are waiting to be seen by the physician.
- Wait times for blood work, tests and medical evaluation may vary, depending on the number of patients in the emergency department at the time.
- Our team sometimes works from a different location and completes evaluations via telepsychiatry. This means that you may be offered an evaluation conducted by a psychiatrist working at a different location, connecting to the ED through specialized equipment.
To ensure safety of all patients and staff, the behavioral health area has unique rules and policies regarding patient and family belongings. This means that when you are triaged to our area, our nurse will ask you and your child to lock up all belongings in a locker before receiving treatment. The staff may also ask your child to change into a hospital gown and/or pajamas to ensure their safety and to enable the physicians to perform a full exam.
Please note the following items are not allowed in the behavioral health area:
- Plastic bags and boxes
- Glass bottles
- Flammable or smoking devices (cigarettes, tobacco, electronic cigarettes, matches, lighters)
- Electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, mp3 players, laptops, e-readers, cameras)
- Potentially dangerous objects (razor blades, shavers, pens, pencils, aerosol cans)
- Alcohol or illegal substances
- Weapons (such as knives)
Frequently asked questions
Why does my child have to wait to see a physician?
The number of patients being cared for at any given time in the ED varies greatly and affects how long it takes the doctors to see your child.
What is the visiting policy?
Because of space constraints, we may ask that only one parent or guardian accompany the child into the evaluation areas.
Will my child receive medication?
If your child or adolescent is assessed to be an imminent danger to themselves or others, treatment with medications may be necessary. We may also recommend medication to help your child feel less anxious or reduce certain symptoms. We do not provide routine medication refills and we usually do not start children on new medications in the ED.
What can I do to help my child?
You are the best person to help your child feel comfortable and safe. Although it may be difficult at times, reassure them by staying calm. Be honest with your child about what they can expect and use age appropriate language that is easy to understand. Remind your child that the staff has a lot of experience helping children feel better and that they’re in good hands.