The University of Texas Dell Medical School has been charged with leading a $15.5 million redesign of the Austin State Hospital and aims to transform the more than 100-year-old facility in Hyde Park into a center for brain health.
Funding for the project was approved in the 2017 legislative session along with six other projects to improve or construct new mental health hospitals in Texas.
Replacement of the aging Austin State Hospital, which was recommended in September 2016, would occur in three phases: $15.5 million for the pre-planning and planning of the new facility in the 2018-19 biennium, $235 million to construct it in 2020-21 and $26.5 million for operating the new center in 2022-23, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
According to a Dell Medical School news release, the redesign of the facility will help usher in “an improved system of collaborative, community-focused care that helps people across Central Texas.”
“Beyond creating a ground-breaking facility in Austin, the master plan will look for ways to create an innovative continuum of inpatient, outpatient, residential and preventative services that will stretch across the dozens of Texas counties that feed into the Austin State Hospital,” said Dr. Stephen Strakowski, chair of the Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, who is leading the redesign effort. “We want to use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change what it means to have a brain health campus at the heart of a multidisciplinary, community-focused, modern system that serves all people impacted by mental health and substance abuse.”
The medical school, along with state Sen. Kirk Watson, has convened a steering committee representing stakeholder groups from throughout the region, including Integral Care, Travis County’s mental health authority; Central Health, the county’s public health care district; The University of Texas System; the Health and Human Services Commission; Bluebonnet Trails Community Services, Williamson County’s mental health authority; Limestone County Sheriff Dennis Wilson and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
The Austin State Hospital serves a 33-county region including Travis, Williamson and Hays counties.