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Boston Children's wants to acquire Franciscan Children's in move to upgrade mental healthcare

Boston Children's Hospital hopes to enhance mental healthcare services by acquiring Brighton, Mass.-based Franciscan Children's Hospital, the organizations announced Oct. 12. 

Boston Children's would spend at least $40 million to $50 million on improvements at Franciscan Children's, The Boston Globe reported Oct. 12. The hospital would become part of Boston Children's corporate structure, but would keep its own board and leadership.

Through the deal, the hospitals would add inpatient and outpatient services for children with psychiatric and developmental disorders, and they would create more treatment options for children with autism.

The announcement comes as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates problems with access to child mental healthcare. Last week, 80 patients received or waited for inpatient psychiatric care at Boston Children's, the Globe reported. This is more than twice the peak number prior to the pandemic.

"We are in a crisis with kids with behavioral and mental health issues," said Kevin Churchwell, MD, CEO of Boston Children's. "Both institutions were working to try to solve it. In our discussions, we both realized that we could do more together than separate."

The deal needs approval from the state's Department of Public Health, the Attorney General's Office and church officials, including the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Vatican.

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