October 3, 2019

Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, HHS Executive Commissioner

Contact: 
Christine Mann, 512-424-6951
Christine.Mann@hhsc.state.tx.us

AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin broke ground today on the construction of a new hospital to replace Austin State Hospital, the oldest psychiatric hospital in Texas.

The Texas Legislature and the Governor approved $180.5 million in funding for the design and initial construction of a modern, state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital to replace the outdated buildings at Austin State Hospital. HHSC is partnering with Dell Medical School to construct the new 240-bed hospital.

“Offering hope, healing, and recovery is at the heart of what we do,” said Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, HHS executive commissioner. “This new hospital is designed to foster a nurturing and supportive environment for the patients we serve.”

The redesign of Austin State Hospital is part of $745 million Texas has invested to revitalize and transform several state psychiatric hospitals.

“While we're celebrating the groundbreaking of a building today, this is about so much more,” said Sen. Kirk Watson. “Today represents a significant commitment by the legislature in the continuum of brain health care and the future health and well-being of Texans. As a result, Texas will become a beacon for brain health treatment, cures and research.”

The three-story, 380,000 square-foot building is scheduled to open June 2023, pending legislative approval of remaining funding needs. The total cost budgeted for the project is approximately $305 million.

“This modern, best evidence-based hospital will put Central Texas at the national forefront of transforming the care of our citizens who struggle with mental illnesses. I am honored to be part of that,” said Dr. Stephen M. Strakowski, associate vice president of regional mental health at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

The project will replace many buildings at ASH with a standalone hospital located on the existing 80-acre campus. The new ASH building eliminates the challenges older buildings pose for delivering modern health care.

“Austin State Hospital has played a vital role in the care of people affected by mental illness for more than 100 years,” said Karen Ranus, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Central Texas. “I am grateful to the Legislature for supporting a vision in which the infrastructure will reflect the wonderful care people have and continue to receive in these buildings.”

Main design features include single-person rooms, the use of natural light throughout patient rooms and common areas, and outdoor spaces to promote recovery and healing. For a virtual 3D rendering of the spaces inside the new hospital, additional pictures, fact sheets and related materials, click here.

ASH will continue to serve patients while construction of the new facility is ongoing. The Old Main Building, a Texas Historic Landmark, will remain intact as well as other buildings of historical significance.

For more information about state hospital construction projects throughout the state, visit Changes to the State Hospital System page on the HHS website.

About Austin State Hospital

Austin State Hospital opened its doors in 1861 and provides acute inpatient psychiatric care to adults, children and adolescents from 77 counties in Central Texas. The hospital served 856 patients in fiscal year 2019.