Today, Big Lots (NYSE: BIG), together with the Big Lots Foundation, announced a $50 million transformational gift to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Big Lots has dedicated its pledge to support Nationwide Children’s recently announced Behavioral Health expansion, including the construction of an approximately 250,000 square foot treatment and research Pavilion on the Hospital's main campus. This is the largest corporate donation ever specifically devoted to a pediatric and adolescent behavioral health program and is an extension of Big Lots’ commitment to the lifesaving treatment and discovery taking place at Nationwide Children’s, America's largest pediatric hospital and research center.
The announcement took place during Big Lots’ annual associates meeting at the Columbus Convention Center Aug. 31-Sept.1. The pledge by Big Lots and its Foundation is part of the hospital’s recently announced “Be The Reason” comprehensive campaign that will serve as the foundation to continue establishing Nationwide Children’s as the country’s most integrated pediatric healthcare system.
“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is honored and grateful for Big Lots’ support directed to the vital issue of child and adolescent behavioral health. This is a bold commitment from a tremendous partner,” said Steve Allen, MD, Chief Executive Officer at Nationwide Children’s. “When we announced our second phase of major expansion earlier this summer, we included plans for the first facility of its kind entirely focused on children and adolescents with behavioral and mental health needs. That commitment includes research into the causes and best treatment protocols for young people dealing with these health challenges. By making this major investment in meeting such a critical need, Big Lots is helping to transform children’s health and care for generations to come.”
“People are afraid to talk about behavioral health conditions,” said David Campisi, President and CEO at Big Lots. “But families need support, no different than if their child had cancer or diabetes. Nationally, behavioral health programming is underfunded and ignored. We’re going to address that with our gift. It’s the right thing to do. Now is the right time, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the right partner.”
In recognition of the generosity of Big Lots, its associates and customers, the new pavilion will be named the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion. Additionally, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Program will be renamed to honor the gift.
“It is the goal at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for families to find hope and healing because we understand the mental well-being of children is as important as their physical well-being,” said David Axelson, MD, chief of Behavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s.
“We must remove the stigma associated with mental illness and behavioral health conditions so we can help more children and families. Nationwide Children’s and community leaders are bringing the conversation to the forefront. There is much work to be accomplished, but by utilizing our expert resources, experience and research discoveries, we will continue to work toward finding answers and providing care for these children and their families. None of these efforts would be possible without the commitment and support of corporate citizens like Big Lots.”
On June 10, Nationwide Children’s announced the addition of the largest comprehensive facility in America dedicated to children and adolescents with behavioral health conditions as part of its phase II master facilities plan. The $158 million pavilion, which is included in the $730 million campus-wide expansion, is scheduled to open in 2020. It will include 48 inpatient beds, a crisis evaluation center with observation beds, a crisis stabilization unit and outpatient programs.
The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion will foster collaboration with Nationwide Children’s research teams, as well as community partner agencies. The pavilion will also serve as a place to train the wide range of disciplines who work together as a team to care for children and teens with mental illness and behavioral health conditions. The eight-story building will have the capacity for expansion of inpatient beds and other programs.
In 2015, Big Lots raised $2.2 million on behalf of Nationwide Children’s after a successful five-week in store campaign. In the first year of the partnership between Big Lots and Nationwide Children’s, 35,000 Big Lots’ associates and its customers responded generously at all of its 1,464 nationwide locations and online. The campaign in 2015 also included shopping sprees for Nationwide Children’s Patient Champions at Big Lots stores in different regions of the country. Patient Champions are children who are being treated or who have been treated at Nationwide Children’s and serve as ambassadors at various hospital events and programs. The items chosen in the stores by the Big Lots Patient Champions then were donated to the hospital.
In addition to being a distinguished corporate sponsor, Big Lots associates are generous with their time. In 2013, volunteers from the Big Lots corporate office in Columbus began visiting the hospital’s Family Resource Center twice a month to deliver a variety of books and healthy snacks to patient families. Furthermore, Big Lots is a sponsor of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon Encore Mile. Each mile along the marathon route is represented by a hospital Patient Champion and the Encore Mile welcomes past marathon Patient Champions to help cheer on race participants.
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