GATESVILLE — An eight-bed mental health crisis respite center may open in Gatesville by the end of next week, County Judge John Firth said, and negotiations are underway to locate a 32-bed center in Copperas Cove.

The two facilities are part of a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal to provide $1.50 of federal funding for every $1 of county or local money spent, Firth said.

The Gatesville center is in a renovated wing of the old Coryell County Hospital currently used for MHMR services. Construction work on the center was completed Oct. 1.

Firth said the first two clients of the center will be patients transferred from the state mental hospital in Austin.

Eldon Tietje, executive director of Central Counties Services, said the agency that will operate the center, confirmed the facility’s first clients would be patients from the state hospital, but hedged on when the center’s “soft opening” would be.

“I am not sure we are ready yet,” Tietje said.

Staff members at the Gatesville center are being trained on a new protocol for distributing medication to mental health care clients, Firth said, and the training may extend into the middle of next week.

Central Counties Services is negotiating with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation for a 4.5-acre building site for the 32-bed center in the Narrows Business & Technology Park, said Polo Enriquez, executive director of the Cove EDC.

Enriquez said the property first identified by the agency for the site was “prime property” valued at about three times the agency’s budget for the center.

“We are asking them to look at another piece of property in the park,” Enriquez said. “We want to put the prime property on our tax rolls.”

The mental health center operated by Central Counties Services would be tax-exempt, Enriquez said.

“We have agreed to continue working with them to see if we can make the project work for them and for us,” he said.

The Gatesville center will provide 24/7 respite care for indigent people with mental health crises who might otherwise end up in the county jail, Tietje said.

The eight-bed center will operate on a “social services model as opposed to a medical model” of care, he said.

The Cove site is being sought for the 32-bed center because of its proximity to Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, which has a psychiatric staff, Firth said.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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