Buckeye Ranch expansion project to help children in need

By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Photo courtesy of the city of Grove City
Grove City Mayor Richard L. “Ike” Stage and the city’s council presented a $250,000 donation on behalf of the city to President and Chief Executive Officer Vickie Thompson-Sandy of the Buckeye Ranch. The donation matches a recent grant from Google in support of a new $35-million youth psychiatric residential treatment facility in partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Pictured here at the check presentation ceremony on Oct. 16 is Mayor Stage, Aileen Hoffman (Vice President, Nationwide Children’s Hospital), Vickie Thompson-Sandy, Councilman Roby Schottke, and Grove City Safety Director Kevin Teaford.

In the fall of 2021, Vickie Thompson-Sandy, CEO and president of the Buckeye Ranch, addressed Grove City Council to pitch the idea of an expansion of the facility on Hoover Road. She said Ranch officials were trying to secure funding and were reviewing whether an extension at the Grove City location was feasible.

As it turns out, it was feasible, and officials broke ground on the $35 million expansion project in early November of 2023.
The Buckeye Ranch provides emotional, behavioral, and mental health services for children and families. The ranch has partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital on the expansion project that aims to meet the needs of children who are still recovering and require a level of care that is a step down from inpatient psychiatric care and require stabilization and regular therapeutic care.
This expansion project will add a new 48-bed residential mental health treatment facility.
“One in five U.S. children experience a mental health condition in a given year, and locally, one Ohioan under 18 years dies by suicide every 33 hours,” said Thompson-Sandy. “The Buckeye Ranch, working with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is fortunately in the position to expand our expertise and facilities to serve these youth and promote healing.”
In addition to the new treatment facility, the expansion project will also include a new education center and a welcome center that will encourage more family involvement and visitation.
According to the Buckeye Ranch, they were happy to partner with Nationwide Children’s Hospital on the project as it is recognized as one of the nation’s largest and most respected providers of mental and behavioral health services for children.
“A single provider cannot meet the needs of an entire community alone,” said David Axelson, MD, chief of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “This new facility will benefit our patients, and children cared for by providers throughout the community. This is a positive and proactive step forward in our community-based model for mental health care.”
Investments helped to make this expansion possible. Google offered the Buckeye Ranch a grant of $250,000 to help support the new residential treatment facility. In October, the city of Grove City decided to match that amount and donated $250,000 to the Ranch.
“Grove City has benefitted from the vital health care services provided by the Buckeye Ranch for more than six decades,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage. “The city’s contribution to this Ranch partnership expansion with Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides an important higher level of care for youth stepping down from inpatient pediatric psychiatry.”
The donated money came out of the city’s general fund.
The Buckeye Ranch opened in 1961 as a treatment center for 10 young men, then called the Buckeye Boys Ranch. According to the organization, it has transitioned into one of the country’s leading providers of emotional and mental health services for children. More than 2,300 youth are under the care of the Ranch. The organization operates from six different locations. Apart from the Grove City campus, the Ranch also has space in Columbus, Whitehall, Newark, and as far south as Cincinnati.
The new building, which will be located at 5656 Hoover Road in Grove City, is scheduled to open in 2025.
For more information on the Buckeye Ranch or its expansion project, visit buckeyeranch.org.
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