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St. David's Foundation Grants $8.9 Million to Fund Mental Health Center

Center to provide psychiatric crisis care in Travis County

July 17, 2014

AUSTIN — St. David's Foundation announced today that it has approved $8.9 million to develop an innovative mental health center in Austin. To be directed by Austin Travis County Integral Care, the center will provide a community-based, short-term psychiatric treatment option for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The center will be built on land provided by Central Health at the intersection of Montopolis Drive and Ben White Blvd. at 2901 Montopolis Drive, in southeast Austin.

"The Foundation is pleased to support a strong, sustainable, community solution to a long- standing community problem," said Earl Maxwell, CEO of the Foundation. "Through the center's crisis services, we hope to better serve Austin residents who struggle with mental illness."

"Central Health has an ongoing commitment to community efforts to improve access to behavioral health services as part of our broader effort to transform the way we deliver health care in Travis County," said Thomas B. Coopwood, MD, of the Central Health Board of Managers. "We are honored to partner with St. David's Foundation and Austin Travis County Integral Care to ensure that our community has access to a broad array of crisis stabilization services. This mental health center will help address a gap identified through the longstanding collaborative efforts of the Psychiatric Services Stakeholders Group whose members have been working together since 2005 to identify and fill critical gaps in our mental health care delivery system."

Up until now, Travis County has not had an appropriate facility to help individuals in mental health crisis who do not have serious medical conditions or active behavioral issues that would require hospital-level care. Instead, when an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis, law enforcement officials are often left with few options for obtaining appropriate care in such circumstances.

A workgroup convened by Central Health, known as the Psychiatric Services Stakeholders Group, (which includes the Foundation, Austin Travis County Integral Care, Central Health, the Austin Police Department, local judges and mental health professionals) has been working since 2005 to develop a community solution to address the need for enhanced crisis services. After a 2013 visit to the Mental Health Emergency Center in Lufkin, Texas – a recognized best practice site – the workgroup determined that the Lufkin model would work locally to fill a critical gap in Travis County's mental health safety net.

Covering 12,000 square feet, the center will provide 16 beds and offer the following services:

  • Crisis assessment;
  • Crisis stabilization;
  • Medications;
  • Therapy – individual and group;
  • Nursing services;
  • Discharge planning; and 
  • Information and referral to ongoing community resources.

"This center is a person-centered, cost-effective approach that will improve our ability to provide the best possible response to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Austin Travis County Integral Care is thrilled to work with our partners to develop and implement this best practice solution for Travis County", said Dawn Handley, Chief Programs Operations Officer for Integral Care.

St. David's Foundation is providing $4.7 million of program funding and $4.2 million in capital funding, for grants totaling $8.9 million. Austin Travis County Integral Care will work to secure additional funds for ongoing operating costs from public and private sources.

The center...is scheduled to open in 2015.

  Download full press release including aerial photo of building site


Interviews with Foundation leadership may be arranged by contacting Kristy Ozmun Public Relations.