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First Psychiatric Emergency Department in Central Texas Opens its Doors

The first psychiatric emergency department in Central Texas opened today at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

The department's aim is to divert patients away from general community emergency rooms into more appropriate and cost-effective care. Now Central Texas adults experiencing a behavioral health crisis can now get help at any time of the day.

Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek says the emergency department is one of several steps Texas is taking to fill a gap in mental health care. In the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers allocated $108 million  more toward adult mental health in the current two-year budget. 

"The Legislature is starting to recognize what so many professionals already knew is that we can do better by society by putting money into mental health services," Janek said. "The simple fact is Texas is starting to pay a whole lot more attention to mental health services, and places like your new psych ED are ground zero for that sort of an effort."

The Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health are funding the emergency department with the help of a federal program focusing on projects that increase quality of care and target the underinsured and uninsured.