The Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation has pledged $5.3 million to Children’s Hospital of Georgia to help establish a pediatric behavioral health and wellness center at Georgia’s second largest children’s hospital.
Children’s health is a major focus for the Kisner Foundation, a non-profit started by Aiken native and PGA golfer Kevin Kisner and his wife Brittany, who worked at Children’s Hospital of Georgia from 2009-2012 as a speech pathologist. During that time, “I saw children who needed a variety of services. The need for developmental pediatricians was there and for more comprehensive care,” Brittany Kisner recalled.
Nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety or depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive behavior disorder, or Tourette syndrome, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with these disorders benefit from early diagnosis and treatment, but only about 20% of children have access to the specialized care they need, the CDC reports.
“Children are struggling. The behavioral and mental health challenges were there before the pandemic, and they’ve only escalated,” said Dr. Valera Hudson, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “With the help of the Kisner Foundation, we are trying to close this gap, bringing everything into one comprehensive program, so that families can get the diagnosis, the care, the treatment and all the services they need in one place.”
The pediatric behavioral health and wellness center will provide a multidisciplinary approach to care based on each child’s needs such as testing and evaluation; referrals for psychotherapy, counseling or other mental health services, in collaboration with MCG Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; physical, occupational or speech therapy; social workers and nursing support to assist with care coordination; and connecting parents and families with ancillary support services.
“We really want to focus on the whole child,” said Brittany Kisner. “By supporting pediatric behavioral health and wellness at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, we can help ensure that families have access to vital resources their children need to grow and develop into successful adults. That’s our mission at the Kisner Foundation,” she said.
“Seeing their passion and commitment to helping children has only reinforced the hope that I have,” said Dr. Hudson.
“If we don’t effect change at a young age, then what are we even doing here?” Kevin Kisner said. “If we can all pull our assets together and everybody get behind a program that will affect the biggest part of our society, then it’s a win for everyone.”
The Kisner Foundation presented a $50,000 check to Children’s Hospital of Georgia in December 2020 toward the same initiative.
“We are deeply moved by the compassion and continued generosity of Kevin and Brittany Kisner and the Kisner Foundation and friends,” said Katrina Keefer, CEO of AU Health System, which operates the not-for-profit Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “We look forward to working together to cultivate this holistic health care approach for children and families to foster a bright future for generations.”
The 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia is Augusta’s only children’s hospital, providing the highest level of neonatal and pediatric intensive care, a level two trauma center, as well as a wide range of general and complex health care for children. Children’s Hospital of Georgia is a high performer in pediatric quality and safety among the nation’s leading academic medical centers and serves as a regional referral center for quaternary and tertiary pediatric care.
The mission of the Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation is aimed at creating positive environments for children to build solid foundations for successful lives. Since 2016, the Kisner Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations across the Augusta-Aiken area for projects that align with this purpose. For more information on how you may support the Kisner Foundation and this pediatric health initiative, please visit kisnerfoundation.org.