SAN ANTONIO — An independent architectural analysis of the San Antonio State Hospital ordered by the 2014 Texas Legislature has determined 80 percent of the hospital’s structures are in critical condition and the entire hospital should be demolished.
The report by architectural and engineering firm CannonDesign also showed the cost of maintaining the property would be higher than the at least $175 million to replace it, according to the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/2dFHxpQ ).
The question of replacing remains with the Legislature. The newest buildings went up in the 1970s, while the oldest date to between 1892 and 1946.
Some of the distress shown from the inspection includes sloping floors, straining support beams and sinking foundations. Along with foundation issues, the hospital’s aesthetic was found to be too dated, and the long distance between campus buildings too inconvenient.
The hospital has 302 beds for treating people with serious mental illness. About one-third of the beds go to forensic patients held involuntarily, by court order because they’re temporarily incompetent to stand trial or have been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity.
Between 2001 and 2012, the number of civil beds across the state declined as the number of forensic beds rose, according to the Department of State Health Services. Director of the Bexar County Mental Health Department Gilbert Gonzales said if the state hospital became a fully forensic facility, it would be a “disaster for the community” because it would lead to overcrowding.
Due to growing systemic problems in state-run facilities, legislators appropriated $3.6 billion for behavioral health and substance abuse services in the 2016-17 budget, of which $40 million went to state mental health hospitals. Some of these problems include long wait times, limited space and workforce shortages.
According to a legislative report, almost 70,000 adults receive community mental health services in Texas monthly.