After an independent review in 2016 found many of Texas' state psychiatric facilities needed major renovations or reconstruction—as is the case with the more-than-100-year-old Austin State Hospital—officials quickly began planning for the new state-of-the-art facility. A partnership between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin was formed, and construction began in October 2019.
The modern, patient-centered hospital will provide inpatient psychiatric treatment and care to vulnerable Central Texans, Jose Araiza of the HHSC said in a press conference Nov. 29.
The $304.6 million project will feature 240 private rooms—one for each patient—with ample natural light throughout the building to help promote recovery, Superintendent Stacey Thompson said during the conference.
"In addition to private rooms, ASH will offer therapy rooms, class and exercise rooms, arts and crafts rooms, and other therapy spaces that will all be important to the patient's recovery," Thompson said.
Each unit, or neighborhood, will be home to 24 rooms in eight-bed subclusters, with porch and courtyard access, activity rooms and dining rooms, along with trees and enhanced gardens, Thompson said.
Araiza said patients will also have access to social interaction spaces including a cafe, gym, music and art room, chapel and salon. Basketball and volleyball courts and walking trails will be available to relieve stress and anxiety.
This undertaking is part of a more than $1.2 billion investment the Texas Legislature earmarked for the redesign of several hospitals throughout the state, including ASH. The new site will be three stories and about 380,000 square feet, according to documents from the HHSC.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said in 2019 that he hopes the new hospital campus, at the end of its construction, will be held in the same regard for mental health care as The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is viewed as a leader for treatment of cancer.
The project is funded through three phases that have each been approved by Texas Legislature:
- Phase 1: $15.5 million in planning and preplanning approved by the 2017 Legislature;
- Phase 2: $165 million for construction approved by the 2019 Legislature; and
- Phase 3: $124.1 million for construction approved by the 2021 Legislature.