AUSTIN, Texas -- For the first time in several years, the Austin State Hospital is getting close to getting a major overhaul, but the process has been long.

  • Plan for redesigned Austin State Hospital released
  • Current facility unable to meet needs
  • Initial estimates hover around $280 million 

“2014 was when the state report came out,” said Karen Ranus of NAMI Austin.

“The report said of the 10 hospitals the state owned, five were unsalvageable,” said Sen. Kirk Watson (D) of Texas Senate District 14. 

The hospital here at home was among the worst.

“The Austin state hospital was in the top two or three,” said Watson.

The facility, with one of the buildings over 150 years old and several others aging quickly, is becoming unable to meet the needs of Central Texans.

“It’s really quite astounding that you have the kind of staff that you have that manages to accomplish what they do considering what they’re working with,” said Ranus.

A local committee has a solution to do a top-to-bottom redesign of the campus to help bring mental health care into the 21st century. It’s not just about construction either, the proposal looks at improving partnerships with local mental health groups to get patients all the help they need.

“People do best when they have a support system, when they have access to everything that they need to achieve their recovery,” said Ranus.

It won’t be cheap, initial estimates hover around $280 million and advocates would need approval from lawmakers.

“We’re still scrubbing the numbers but the fact that we’re already putting a big chunk of money in the supplemental budget tells me we’re going to live up to these obligations. Anything can happen, but I’m very optimistic,” said Watson.

The hospital serves adults from over 30 Central Texas counties.