Austin State Hospital redevelopment plans released, await funding

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) –  The plans are ready for the Austin State Hospital redevelopment. Now, supporters of the plan need state lawmakers to pick from one of three options and put down $285 million in the next two year Texas budget.

New renderings from the Dell Medical School show the end goal of the oldest psychiatric facility in the state. In the middle of North Central Austin, supporters of the Austin State Hospital hope to renovate leaky, crumbling buildings, and increase the bed space.

“Mental health conditions affect one out of every five people. They are the single most expensive healthcare cost in the United States,” said Steve Strakowski, Chair of the Steering Committee of the project.

People at this event Monday want patients to have continuous care: not just an emergency check in without any follow up care.

Lawmakers dedicated money two years ago to make the plan.

“We got behind in keeping these facilites up and so it needs to happen,” said Strakowski.

Enter, Austin Senator Kirk Watson. He sits on the finance committee and will try and convince his fellow lawmakers to sign off on $285 million. With a booming economy, he says Texas can spend some of that $15 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. 

“Which has been looked at something you can spend money on one time investments. So building this hospital will be one of those,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.

His argument: treating mental health issues at Austin State Hospital will be cheaper than treating them in county jails, backseats of police cars, and where all the mental health side-effects wreak havoc on Texas. 

Lawmakers have until May 31st to sign off on the Austin State Hospital project as part of the biennial budget.

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