Houston behavioral health hospital to become largest in U.S.

Academic behavioral health hospital would be largest in country


HOUSTON – Following the first $6 million in state funds approved by the Legislative Budget Board, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston said it will oversee construction of a continuum of care campus for behavioral health, creating the largest academic behavioral health hospital in the country.

Officials said the UTHealth Continuum of Care Campus for Behavioral Health will include acute, subacute and residential treatment and is estimated to cost $125 million. It is projected to have 300 beds, combined with the 274 existing acute care beds in the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Cente.

The Texas Legislature approved $300 million to expand and repair the state's hospital during the 2018-19 biennium, with the intent to appropriate more funds to the the Health and Human Services Commission in the following biennia.

“Our state leaders in the Legislature and in the Health and Human Services Commission have shown incredible dedication to help those suffering from behavioral health illnesses in Texas," said Dr. Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, the UTHealth president and Alkek-Williams distinguished chair. "UTHealth is honored to partner with them to develop innovative programs and provide the highest level of care for this vulnerable population. This funding is a giant step toward addressing a critical health care need.”

Officials said UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center has about 45 people waiting to be admitted at all times.

“This funding will allow us to build a transformative model of care that will go to the very core of treating behavioral health illnesses. It will help us make a vital difference for these patients and their loved ones,” Dr. Jair Soares said.

UTHealth officials said they are hopeful the new campus will reduce the pressure on hospital emergency centers and the Harris County Jail, which currently houses more psychiatric patients than all of the state hospitals combined.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said they strongly support the funding for the needed infrastructure.

“The continuum model will be designed to address not only different levels of care, but also to integrate the different types of care individuals need, including psychiatric, substance abuse and medical care. The continuum will allow McGovern Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences to continue its research into the causes and treatment of behavioral health issues, and to expand its training of the next generation of healers."

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