The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced on Jan. 8 that the Austin State Hospital will receive $15.5 million for their proposal for redesigning the mental health facility to become a cornerstone for improved community-focused care.

Dell Medical School will be leading the redesign of Austin State Hospital, working with State Senator Kirk Watson, to create a center for brain health.

According to a press release, they are aiming to "transform mental health and substance abuse care into an integrated system of comprehensive brain health."

The doctor leading the state hospital's redesign, Dr. Stephen Strakowski, said “Beyond creating a ground-breaking facility in Austin, the master plan will look for ways to create an innovative continuum of inpatient, outpatient, residential and preventative services that will stretch across the dozens of Texas counties that feed into the Austin State Hospital."

This funding is part of a larger plan of HHSC releasing $47.7 million to begin improving Texas' inpatient psychiatric care system, and this initial $57.7 million is part of the $300 million approved by the 85th Texas Legislature to improve the state hospital system in 2018 to 2019.

“A strong state psychiatric system is critically important to all Texans. This investment will benefit the state for generations,” HHSC Executive Commissioner Charles Smith said. “With this support from state leadership, we can update our facilities and be sure we are providing Texans with the very best mental health care possible.”

According to a press release, the initial $47.7 million will also include:

- renovating projects to expand capacity at the Kerrville and San Antonio State Hospitals;

- the architectural planning and design of a new hospital and continuum of care campus in Houston;

- the architectural planning and design of two new 100-bed units at Rusk State Hospital;

- the planning for the total replacement of Austin and San Antonio State Hospitals.