Austin State Hospital Demo Complete, Construction to Start

Tue December 29, 2020 - West Edition #1
HHS. gov

Officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019 to kick off the project.
Officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019 to kick off the project.
Officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019 to kick off the project.

Construction crews have completed demolition of vacant buildings on the Austin State Hospital campus to make way for the construction of a 240-bed standalone replacement hospital, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently announced.

"The new hospital creates a facility that will match the modern mental health care we provide our patients," said Tim Bray, HHSC associate commissioner for state hospitals. "We took special care with the design of the hospital to make sure it incorporates features that provide a therapeutic setting that helps with the healing and recovery of patients."

HHSC is partnering with Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin to redesign and construct the new 380,000 sq.-ft. hospital.

"We are thrilled to continue to be part of this historic improvement in mental health care in Texas," said Steve Strakowski, MD, vice dean for research and associate vice president for Regional Mental Health at Dell Med. "We look forward to working with the Legislature to finish the hospital on time and on budget."

The total cost budgeted for the new hospital is approximately $305 million. The Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott have already approved $180.5 million in funding for the design and initial construction of the replacement hospital. The $124 million for the remainder of the project is pending legislative approval.

"We are all served by the state-level investment in compassionate and effective treatment of all mental illness," said State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt. "The redevelopment of the Austin State Hospital into a center of excellence described by former State Senator Kirk Watson as the ‘MD Anderson of the Brain' is literally concrete evidence of that investment. Having worked in the courts, I can tell you the return on this investment in personal and public health is far greater than ‘treating' mental illness in the justice system."

Construction crews are building the hospital on the existing 80-acre ASH campus. The new hospital will have private rooms for each patient and natural light throughout the building to promote recovery. There will be 10, 24-bed units, that each have therapy rooms, classrooms, exercise rooms, an arts and crafts room and other therapy spaces.

The main level's first floor will feature social interaction spaces including a café, gym, music and art room, chapel and salon. Outside, there will be basketball and volleyball courts and walking trails to relieve stress.

This new hospital is part of a $745 million investment from Texas lawmakers and Gov. Abbott for the construction and renovation of state psychiatric hospitals in Austin, Kerrville, Rusk and San Antonio, as well as a new hospital in Houston. Combined, the construction projects at the hospitals will add at least 350 new inpatient psychiatric beds in Texas within the next four years.

Officials and construction crews broke ground on the new hospital in October 2019. It is scheduled to open in June 2023. For more information about state hospital construction projects throughout the state, visit the Changes to the State Hospital System page on the HHSC website.

Austin State Hospital, which has been operating since 1861, is the oldest psychiatric hospital in Texas. The Old Main Building, a Texas Historic Landmark, will remain intact.