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Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care Breaks Ground

Officials from Austin Travis County Integral Care, Central Health and St. David’s Foundation joined members of the law enforcement and mental health communities today to break ground on Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care, a community-based, short-term residential psychiatric treatment facility for people experiencing mental health crises.

Operated by Integral Care, the Herman Center will help address Travis County’s lack of adequate access to emergency psychiatric services and will help support first responder and emergency healthcare services by creating a new point of access for crisis care. The center is the result of a collaboration of local healthcare organizations. St. David’s Foundation provided an $8.9 million grant for the project, and Central Health made the land, valued at an estimated $1.2 million, available through a long-term lease for $1 per year.

“One in five people will experience a mental health issue in any given year,” said David Evans, CEO of Integral Care. “This is an issue that impacts our whole community and the Herman Center will be a place that offers timely access, quicker treatment and hope for those facing a mental health crisis.”

The name of the facility honors Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman’s career-long commitment to championing the interests of people living with mental health issues in Travis County. As Probate Judge, Herman is responsible for determining if and when someone must be committed for psychiatric care and has seen firsthand the needs of those experiencing mental illness.

“The goal in improving access to mental health care is to keep the person living with mental illness safe and get that person back on track so he or she can be a productive member of society,” said Herman. “This center will help do that.”

Historically in Travis County, people experiencing a mental health crisis have only had the option of inpatient care, which can be expensive and is not always available. Herman Center will offer assessment, stabilization and treatment in a specialized facility, improving health outcomes for patients and reducing the cost of care for patients and taxpayers.

Herman Center will also provide law enforcement an alternative for people they pick up who suffer from mental illness.

“When an officer comes into contact with someone experiencing a mental health crisis, the more options for treatment available, the better the outcome will be,” said Lt. Brian Jones with the Austin Police Department. “And not just for the person experiencing the crisis, but for the community at large.”

In the first two years, it’s estimated the center will serve more than 3,100 people who will stay an average of 72 hours.

“St. David’s Foundation has been involved throughout the history of this project, in our role as a member of the Psychiatric Services Stakeholder Committee, and because mental health is a priority for us as one of our six major focus areas for funding,” said Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Foundation. “The Herman Center will address a long-standing need, showing that optimum solutions can be found when the community works together toward a common goal. We are proud to help provide the solution to this critical community need.”

The need for the center was originally identified by the Psychiatric Services Stakeholders Committee, which includes Integral Care, Central Health, St. David’s Foundation, Seton Healthcare Family, the Austin Police Department, local judges, and mental health professionals. The group has been working together since 2005 to identify and fill critical gaps in the mental health care delivery system.

“The creation of the Herman Center is part of Central Health’s promise to lead improvements to our community’s behavioral health services,” said Patricia Young Brown, president and CEO of Central Health. “It will improve local emergency crisis services and help get people into the appropriate setting for care.”

The center will be located near the intersection of Montopolis Dr. and E. Ben White Blvd. and is scheduled to open in early 2017. It will be approximately 12,000 square feet and house 16 beds. Services provided will include:

  • ·Crisis assessment
  • ·Secure, short-term emergency crisis stabilization and extended observation
  • ·Medications
  • ·Therapy (individual and group)
  • ·Nursing services
  • ·Discharge planning and connection to ongoing services and resources

The Herman Center is modeled after Burke, the mental health emergency center in Lufkin, Texas, which opened in 2008 and is recognized as a best practice in psychiatric care.

About Austin Travis County Integral Care:

Founded in 1967 to serve Austin and Travis County, Integral Care provides community-based services for adults and children with brain-based disorders including serious mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. For more information, visit IntegralCare.org.