$2 Million Gift from Ashley and Michael Fisher Increases Access to Mental and Behavioral Health Treatment for Young Patients
Release Date: 3.2.2022
CLEVELAND – A $2 million gift from Ashley and Michael Fisher will help expand University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s network of mental health services across the region. The family’s generosity will support additional mental health workers at UH Rainbow facilities, new technology systems, and specialized programs to meet the needs of teens and young adults.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the national crisis in pediatric and adolescent mental health. On December 7, 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory about the “urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.” UH Rainbow is experiencing a 20 percent increase in pediatric patients receiving mental and behavioral health services.
“We’ve seen this crisis with our own friends and family,” said Ashley Fisher. “Making sure the right resources are available at the right time is so important. We have the opportunity to help UH Rainbow change the paradigm and better integrate mental health services.”
“It’s easy to see the physical effect of the pandemic,” said Mike Fisher. “What isn’t as obvious is the mental health aspect that comes from the stress, the isolation and the worry. When you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be debilitating. I hope our gift can help UH Rainbow increase capacity, including telemedicine options, and help make sure all the services patients are receiving are aligned.”
Mike Fisher is a veteran technology executive currently serving as the Chief Technology Officer for Etsy, while Ashley puts her energy towards helping children and families in the local community through her volunteer work. The Fishers have a long history of supporting organizations that serve children and families in Northeast Ohio through their donor advised fund at the Cleveland Foundation, which they established in 2012.
“We have been honored to serve as philanthropic partners to the Fisher family for the last decade,” said Kaye Ridolfi, senior vice president of advancement at the Cleveland Foundation. “Their transformative gift to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s is an inspiration to anyone looking to make an impact on the lives of young people in Greater Cleveland.”
“The Cleveland Foundation has been a great partner in first listening to what we’re interested in, and then bringing us opportunities to make an impact in the community. They see firsthand what’s happening in Northeast Ohio and provide the expertise to manage the entire process so that we can achieve our philanthropic goals,” said Mike Fisher.
More young people are suffering from mental health illnesses, as evidence by the national increase in suicidal ideation and attempts among high school students, as well as mental health-related emergency department visits among children age 5 to 24. In Ohio, suicide is the leading cause of death among teens and pre-teens, and has increased by 56 percent over the last 10 years.
“The Fisher family’s gift will help us reduce the number of inpatient admissions for our young patients in need of mental health care, which will allow us to focus on longer term care plans and outpatient follow-up,” explained Charles Macias, MD, MPH, Chief Quality Officer, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “Their generosity will also allow more patients in need of acute care to stay in the UH health system.”
“It is so important that our patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time, for all medical needs, but especially critical in mental and behavioral health conditions,” said Patti DePompei, RN, MSN, President, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s and UH MacDonald Women’s hospitals and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation Chair in Leadership and Innovation. “The support of the Fisher family will improve access to experts in this area and leverage new technology systems for caregivers to follow-up with patients and their families so they are never alone in their treatment plan.”
UH Rainbow offers mental and behavioral health inpatient services at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, along with eight telehealth hub locations. The scope of the demand for mental health services makes it impossible for all UH locations to be fully staffed with on-site mental health experts. Telehealth can help bridge this gap, ensuring UH locations have access to mental health consults to develop a care plan for pediatric patients in need.
Another key to improving access to mental health care for young patients is better systems for tracking and follow-up. The Fisher’s gift to UH Rainbow will also support new technology and systems development to ensure patient’s health history follows them wherever they seek care, which is especially critical in crisis situations. Additionally, long-term, outpatient follow-up can help reduce ED visits and minimize mental health crisis situations.
Last fall, the Children’s Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists launched Sound the Alarm for Kids urging Congress to enact legislation and increase funding to address a national mental health emergency in children and teens. UH Rainbow is one of more than 200 children’s hospitals and 77,000 physicians signed on in support of Sound the Alarm for Kids.
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