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June 16, 2016      5:46 PM

Broad outlines of potential fix for state hospital system on the table

A “billion-dollar problem” spread across five hospitals

A key Texas Senate committee appears ready to tackle what former agency head David Lakey calls “a billion-dollar problem” around the maintenance of the state hospital system.

That’s what it would take to replace the five state psychiatric hospitals that a consultant study suggested were beyond repair in Rusk, Austin, Wichita Falls, San Antonio and Terrell. Each would cost about $200 million to replace, from demolition to construction.

The discussion of what to do with aging hospital facilities floundered last session on the point of shuttering and consolidating the state’s 10-campus system. That was a non-starter for rural lawmakers in communities where the state hospital is the key industry. At the same time, failing facilities have cut the number of people who can be served by existing campuses.

By Kimberly Reeves