HHSC Celebrates Construction Milestone at Austin State Hospital

News Release
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Cecile Erwin Young
HHS Executive Commissioner
Ty Bishop, 512-424-6951

AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission today announced the structural completion of a new 240-bed hospital at Austin State Hospital (ASH). This morning a construction crane placed the final beam atop the three-story building.

Once construction is completed in November 2023, the building will replace the current hospital and allow staff to provide psychiatric care under one roof, instead of multiple buildings.

“We are excited to soon have a modern hospital that matches the state-of-the-art care we provide to our patients every day,” said Deputy Executive Commissioner Scott Schalchlin with Texas HHSC’s Health and Specialty Care System.

HHSC partnered with Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin to design and construct the new hospital and develop an innovative model for a continuum of care. It will have private rooms for each patient and natural light throughout the building to promote recovery. There will be ten 24-bed units that each have therapy rooms, classrooms, exercise rooms, an activity/multipurpose room, and other therapy spaces.

The first floor of the hospital will feature social interaction spaces including a café, gym, music and art room, chapel and salon. Outside, there will be basketball courts, walking trails and outdoor exercise equipment to relieve stress and anxiety.

“This milestone gets us one step closer to realizing a shared vision for a seamless continuum of care to support those suffering from mental health issues in Texas,” said Stephen Strakowski, MD, a professor and associate vice president for Regional Mental Health at Dell Medical School and ASH Redesign leader. “The goal is, and has always been, to improve the lives of individuals and families, and it’s exciting to see the future of mental health care taking shape in Austin.”

The total cost for the new hospital is approximately $305 million. It is part of more than $1 billion that the Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott have dedicated to the revitalization of the state psychiatric hospital system. The funding is being used for the construction and renovation of state hospitals in Austin, Kerrville, Rusk and San Antonio, as well as the construction of new hospitals in Houston and Dallas. Construction was recently completed on the John S. Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center in Houston, the newest facility in the state hospital system. Combined, the construction projects will add at least 500 new inpatient psychiatric beds in Texas within the next four years.

Visuals
Images are available of the ongoing construction and the “topping out” ceremony held today. A virtual 3D tour of the hospital is also available.

About Austin State Hospital
Austin State Hospital has been operating since 1861 and is the oldest hospital in Texas for the care and treatment of people with mental illness. ASH provides inpatient psychiatric care to Texans in central Texas. The hospital also provides competency restoration services for people who have been determined incompetent to stand trial and long-term treatment for individuals who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. Austin State Hospital is among 11 state hospitals that HHSC owns.