Annual Letter from Armando Llechu

Armando Llechu Over the past five years, the team at Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital have been working to expand our position as a trusted partner in the delivery of mental and behavioral healthcare to the children of Southwest Florida. This much needed service is traditionally poorly reimbursed, and on a national level, faces severe limitations to access, yet is desperately needed by the tens of thousands of children suffering right here in our region. We are proud of what we have achieved to date, but this is only the beginning. With the help and support of this community, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of children throughout Southwest Florida, and Kids’ Minds Matter is the catalyst to get us there.

Kids’ Minds Matter is a movement which was founded through the vision of Susan Goldy and her husband Scott Spiezle. Since its inception almost six years ago, Kids’ Minds Matter has raised more than $10,000,000 to expand access to pediatric mental and behavioral health care in our community. This was no easy feat and is a true testament to Scott and Susan, their passion for this cause, and their hard work in making each year more successful than the last. In that time, we have also hired Dr. Paul Simeone to serve as vice president of mental health for Lee Health. Dr. Simeone brings with him an incredible background and a tremendous vision for our program. With the help of Dr. Simeone and the support of Scott and Susan, we have successfully increased access from 1,088 patient visits in 2017 to a projected 22,037 patient visits in 2020, a 1925% increase. That statistic alone is almost unbelievable. Add to this that we saw a decrease of 31% in year-over-year involuntary admissions to the hospital as a result of mental or behavioral health issues. Those visits aren’t just numbers though. Those visits are attached to precious lives. Children. Families. All changed as a result of a community coming together and declaring that children deserve better, that kids’ minds matter.

“Better” is exactly what we expect to provide these families. Better access. Better outcomes. A chance at a better life. With your continued support, we intend to execute a five-year strategy developed by Dr. Simeone and our mental health providers, to create additional access regionally. We will continue to educate parents and caregivers through our mental health first aid courses, educate incoming college freshmen at local universities, create programs for at-risk youth who do not require inpatient admission but need more support than a traditional outpatient visit can provide, and ultimately continue to recruit talented professionals in the mental health arena to Southwest Florida.

Thank you for your trust and unwavering support. Without you, we would not have achieved these results and made this incredible impact. This is only the beginning. Our children deserve better and that is what we intend to provide. Golisano Children’s Hospital, Kids’ Minds Matter and the Southwest Florida community, together we are making a difference!

Armando Llechu

Chief Administrative Officer

Golisano Children’s Services