Work begins on psychiatric hospital

Austin Lakes Hospital broke ground on a new psychiatric hospital on West Stassney Lane on July 11.

When completed next spring, the 80-bed Austin Oaks Hospital will take pressure off of area emergency rooms, hospital CEO Ramona Key said.

"This facility will address an incredible need," Austin Councilman Mike Martinez said at the ground breaking. "We have a lack of bed space in Austin. I cannot thank you enough."

Key read a proclamation from the Austin City Council declaring the day in the hospital's honor.

Hospital officials said the new 51,420-square-foot, $17 million hospital will treat children ages 4 to 17 as well as adults. Services at a 6,000-square-foot outpatient building will include partial hospitalization and an additional "second chances" program with social learning and behavior modification. The hospital rooms are able to be adjusted and partitioned to address day-to-day needs.

The hospital may also have anger management and summer programs for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. Officials expect the hospital to create more than 200 jobs and generate property taxes.

The new hospital will be built on the site of the former The Oaks Treatment Center, a children's mental health facility that has been closed since 2009. The hospital building changed hands before being acquired by Austin Lakes Hospital's parent company, Universal Health Services Inc., in November 2010.

Key said the hospital's development has been in the works since January 2011.

Workers began demolishing the building in July. He said hospital designers worked to preserve and build around 88 oak trees on the property.

"We went through 14 models and prototypes to build around the 88 trees," Key said. "It doesn't look like any other facility."



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