South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday September 29, 2020

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July 2018 - Volume 15 - Issue 1


Jerome Golden Center’s New Telepsychiatry Program for Children Fills Deep Need

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Palm Beach County has only 9.5 child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children. This significant shortage is even more alarming when you consider there were an estimated 29,000 children under 18 who had a major depressive episode in the county during the last year. And depression amongst our youth is on the rise.

The Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health in West Palm Beach, FL understood this challenge all too well when it lost its only child psychiatrist who commuted from Miami to Belle Glade to serve the center’s child and adolescent patients. But the center knew it had to continue serving their children. As a safety net organization for those in need, the center never turns anyone away. In fact, over 80% of their 9,000+ clients make $11,000 a year or less. They knew they had to find a solution, and telepsychiatry was it.
The nonprofit organization appealed to donors and the community to help fund the cost of the program for its first year. Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Batchelor Foundation, the center quickly raised the funds and launched its child telepsychiatry program at its Belle Glade, FL location.
Using Zoom technology and enlisting their previous child psychiatrist from Miami who provides bi-lingual care, Dr. Maria Vega, the center launched the Telepsychiatry program on May 18th. The center expects to serve over 620 children and adolescents through telepsychiatry a year.
Under the leadership of Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Suresh Rajpara, the goals of the program are to reduce the rate of hospitalization for children/adolescents served, reduce school absenteeism, and help children improve school performance.
“Telepsychiatry is the only foreseeable solution to help overcome the severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists in Palm Beach County, especially in Western part of the county,” said Dr. Rajpara. “Our services will give children a chance for early intervention and ongoing care where virtually none exist and provide multi-lingual options to our diverse population in Belle Glade and West Palm Beach.”
Response to the program from children and parents has been positive. Dr. Rajpara ensured his staff was well-trained to ensure a caring, compassionate experience and compliance with HIPAA requirements. And the center will implement a survey to gather feedback to improve care as the program expands. Plans are to grow the telepsychiatry offering to its West Palm Beach location and eventually offer services to adults.
“Telepsychiatry is an innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable solution to provide services to more people in our community than we could have ever reached before,” said Dr. Rajpara. “And we’re able to help the most vulnerable who desperately need care - our children,”

For more information, visit or call (561) 383-8000 or email

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