GATESVILLE — Officials from Coryell County and Central Counties Services on Monday toured the 70-year-old building that was once the county hospital and may be a 16-bed, 24/7 mental health services center by this summer.
The old hospital, now known as the county MHMR building, would be renovated as part of a four-year, federally funded project to provide mental health services that the county attorney and jail administrator say are urgently needed.
The center would provide round-the-clock supervised care for indigent adults who experience mental health crises and often end up in the county jail or a hospital emergency room.
County Judge John Firth said he expects a decision on the project by late April or early May and, if approved, the center could be operational within 60 days.
The project, sought through a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver, would provide $1.50 of federal matching funds for every $1 from the county and other local sources, Firth said.
The county would pay the $30,000 for renovating the building, he said, but the 150 percent federal match would make it “a good investment for the citizens.”
Eldon Tietje, executive director of Central Counties Services, formerly Central Counties MHMR, and three of his agency’s board members joined Firth and Commissioner Don Jones for the walk-through.
Board members Steve Wick, Neal White and Donna Twait, who serve on the agency’s facilities committee, made the tour, along with George Tatum, the county facilities manager.
Tietje said the building “is in pretty good repair” but needs better insulation to cut down on utility bills.
Plumbing and wiring also need repair, Jones said, and workers are ready to start on the renovation. “Just give us the OK to go to work,” Jones told Tietje.
Built in 1943 by the federal Works Progress Administration, most of the 16,450-square-foot building is vacant except for some offices used for Central Counties Services programs. Firth said the mental health services center would occupy more than 60 percent of the building, about 10,000 square feet.
A grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for a county mental health defender program could provide a “hand-in-glove arrangement for staff” at the center, Tietje said.
Jones asked whether the county senior center across the street could provide meals for the center. Tietje said he would look into that possibility.
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