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Bold plan to enhance mental and behavioral health begins in the Intermountain West

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Intermountain Healthcare and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital are launching a bold plan to enhance mental and behavioral health services for children and teens in crisis throughout the Intermountain West. This effort has inspired an extraordinary $10 million gift to Intermountain Foundation from Utah community leaders Greg and Julie Cook. 

“The Cooks’ generous and transformational gift will help to expand and enhance behavioral health services to improve mental wellness in children and teens — and help prevent mental health crises,” said Anne Brenneman, behavioral health services director at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among children ages 10-17 years. Intermountain Healthcare’s hospital emergency departments have seen a more than 300 percent increase in pediatric mental health crises over the past eight years, and an estimated 40 percent of kids who have depression are not getting care. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the ongoing need for additional mental, behavioral, and emotional health resources for children.

With the help of the Cooks’ gift, Intermountain Healthcare and Primary Children’s Hospital will begin to offer:

  • A new pediatric assessment, referral, and consultation service to screen, triage, and place children in the right services, both virtually and in person. Services will include both crisis response and stabilization, as well as a full array of treatment options. 
  • Expansion of available care options, including a call center, TeleHealth services, and in-home crisis services. The call center will connect families to local providers and services throughout the Intermountain West. 
  • A new pediatric behavioral health unit located at the second Primary Children’s Hospital campus being built in Lehi. Offering both inpatient and outpatient services, the new hospital will include a 12-bed behavioral health unit with private outdoor space conducive to healing and spiritual health.

The new Lehi hospital location was selected to ensure the shortest drive time possible for the rapidly growing Utah County community.

“When we learned about Intermountain’s effort to address behavioral health in children, we were inspired to help,” said Greg Cook, a founding executive of dōTERRA essential oils company and a member of the Primary Children’s Hospital Governing Board. “The children who live throughout the six-state area that Primary Children’s Hospital serves cannot be left without these vital services. No suicide needs to happen. It is preventable if all of us work together to be part of the solution.”

The $10 million gift is the largest single gift the Cook family has given to any organization. Greg and Julie Cook, the parents of five children, also established The Cook Center for Human Connection this year.

“We’ve had many conversations with people whose children were struggling, and they didn’t know where to go for help,” said Julie Cook. “We thought something needs to be done to change this. Our gift was a way to make a difference.”

The new behavioral health programming made possible by the Cooks’ gift to Intermountain Foundation — a critical first contribution that has helped ignite an active groundswell of support — will help to address kids’ unique challenges, and position Utah as the home for the nation’s healthiest kids.

Expanded and enhanced pediatric behavioral health services are part of Intermountain Healthcare’s unprecedented $500 million promise — half of which would come from community gifts — to create a national model for children’s health.  

The model system will feature a blend of program, research, and capital expansion, and bring together specialized pediatric caregivers from multiple Intermountain facilities and Primary Children’s pediatric partners at University of Utah Health. The model system will serve children in a 400,000 square mile area encompassing Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Alaska.

The model health system for children contains three areas of focus:

  • Strengthen Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, pushing the boundaries of one of the nation’s top-ranked pediatric hospitals.
  • Address children’s emerging health needs, reaching beyond hospital walls to ensure community environments that keep children healthy, happy, and safe.
  • Extend care excellence across the Intermountain West, so more families can access top-quality resources for children.

These ambitious goals and investment represent the largest commitment to the care and health of children throughout the Intermountain West since Primary Children’s was envisioned in the early 1900s.  

This story contains sponsored content.

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