Shortly after St. Luke’s University Health Network acquired Easton Hospital in 2020, the Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation demonstrated its longstanding commitment to the Easton community by awarding a grant to the St. Luke’s Easton Campus to support the mental health and well-being of young people in the region.
Now in the second year of funding, Two Rivers Chairman Paul Brunswick says the Foundation is “very happy with the results of St. Luke’s use of the funds.”
“They’re doing a great job, exactly what they said they’d do to help care for the emotional and psychological challenges that face our youth during this time of turmoil.”
According to child and adolescent psychiatrist Andrew Clark, MD, medical director of the hospital’s new Adolescent Behavioral Unit, “Sadly, pediatric mental health admissions in the United States have increased approximately 50% and emergency department visits have doubled related to suicidal attempts and suicidal ideation among youth over the past decade.”
The Two Rivers grant provides funds each year to help young people suffering from anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation and other serious mental health conditions.
In February, St. Luke’s Easton opened the 16-bed Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit for teenage patients aged 12 to 18. According to Dr. Clark, “The unit’s therapeutic focus is on safety, comfort and resiliency to enable patients to identify stressors and learn to manage their responses so they can feel calmer and more confident in any setting.”
Linda Grass, president of St. Luke’s Easton Campus, says, “Support from Two Rivers has been so helpful. The grant is helping us do more to ensure children receive the care they need.”
One recent addition to the services provided on the unit is a recreational therapist to help teenagers learn alternative methods of self-expression, creative movement and coping skills.
St. Luke’s is also offering a range of community programs, including a recent Coach’s Summit to educate local sports leaders on the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions impacting student-athletes.
“We are so pleased to collaborate with Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation to meet the emotional health needs in this community,” adds Grass.
Says Brunswick, “This much-needed facility for healing our young patients close to home comes at a really good time.” He’s impressed with the local focus, and the design and décor of the refurbished unit. All the rooms are private, with soothing colors and large windows overlooking a calming garden. All of the patients treated so far have come from Northampton and Lehigh County or were referred from another St. Luke’s facility.
Funds from the grant are also available to help St. Luke’s enhance the YESS! (Your Emotional Strength Supported!) program in elementary schools throughout Northampton County. YESS! embeds St. Luke’s licensed outpatient therapists who provide one-on-one counseling for students and facility personnel. The program reduces barriers to treatment, such as transportation or learning loss due to missed classes. Telehealth technology links parents and guardians into sessions if needed.
“The disruption from COVID has made life so difficult for kids a time when they’re supposed to be learning in school and enjoying life,” Brunswick says. “The timing and implementation of this grant are ideal.”
Easton Hospital and Two Rivers Foundation worked closely together for many years to serve the Easton Community. The Foundation was established in 2001, when Easton Hospital was sold to a for-profit health system and the hospital’s accumulated surplus funds were transferred to the Foundation to be dispensed on behalf of the community.
Since its beginning, Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation has awarded more than $8 million in grants to Northampton County not-for-profits that focus on maternal-fetal health, behavioral health, dental health and senior health. This is the first grant approved by Two Rivers for St. Luke’s Easton Hospital.
“St. Luke’s is a good partner for the Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation,” says Brunswick. “We are impressed with them, share their commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community and look forward to our continued collaboration.”