AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced the release of $47.7 million to begin improving the state’s inpatient psychiatric care system, with the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin leading a $15.5 million redesign of the Austin State Hospital.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Monday that the State Hospital proposal has been approved as part of the Comprehensive Inpatient Mental Health Plan.

It provides a six-year framework for rebuilding five of the 10 state psychiatric hospitals, as recommended by a 2014 report on conditions at the facilities. HHSC and Dell Med expect to finalize the redesign contract shortly.

Dell Med, working with state Sen. Kirk Watson, has convened a steering committee representing key stakeholder groups from across the region.

The group will work to create a center for brain health on the Austin State Hospital campus to better serve the needs across Austin State Hospital’s broad service areas — covering 33 counties for adults and 55 counties for children.

“This transformative project has implications for all of Texas,” said Charles Smith, executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission. “As we improve mental health care in Central Texas, we’ll learn lessons to help us improve care everywhere.”

The planning group will deliver a master plan for the campus and facility’s service areas with a milestone report due in advance of the 2019 legislative session.

The planning funds come through a 2018-19 state budget provision, championed by Watson and state Sen. Charles Schwertner, aimed at improving failing mental health facilities across the state.

The Austin renovations are a part of HHSC's statewide plans. Projects include:

  • Renovation projects to expand capacity at the Kerrville and San Antonio State Hospitals;
  • Architectural planning and design of a new hospital and continuum of care campus in Houston
  • Architectural planning and design of two new 100-bed units at Rusk State Hospital
  • Planning for the total replacement of Austin and San Antonio State Hospitals