Land swap helps bring mental health hospital to Amarillo

The Texas A&M University System News Release image header. Office of Marketing Communications. 979-458-6023

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Regents voted unanimously today to approve a land deal in Amarillo that will help to build the only state hospital for inpatient mental health care in the Panhandle.

“This deal shows when state leadership listens to what people say they need and collaborate, great things happen,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Working together, the city of Amarillo, the state and The Texas A&M University System are solving one of the Panhandle’s most vexing health care dilemmas today.”

The deal involves leasing a 10-acre tract of land the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory formerly occupied at 6610 W. Amarillo Blvd. before it moved its lab to the West Texas A&M University campus.

TVDML is leasing the Amarillo site for $1 a year to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to construct a 75-bed mental hospital. HHSC plans to break ground on the hospital late this summer and begin admitting patients in fall 2027.

The 88th Texas Legislature provided $159 million to build the hospital but directed the Health and Human Services Commission to work with local stakeholders to find the land for it.

The West Texas A&M University Foundation is raising $750,000 to purchase a bus terminal adjacent to Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center. The University also is working with the city of Amarillo to use the property to further expand WT’s Laura and Joe Street School of Nursing.

“This partnership between HHSC and the A&M System is providing WT’s Laura and Joe Street School of Nursing the opportunity to expand our impact on mental health in rural west Texas,” said Walter V. Wendler, president of West Texas A&M University. “Together we are making a difference.”

The net effect of the swap is an even deal: The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory gets paid $1.3 million — the appraised value of the property in 2023 — and West Texas A&M University gets property and cash worth $1.3 million.

“The real bottom line here is that Amarillo and the rest of the Panhandle get the mental health care the region needs, but never had,” Sharp said.

Without any state mental health hospital in the Panhandle, anyone in a mental health crisis is sent to Wichita Falls or a farther state hospital for care, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner said. And there’s a long wait for a bed.

“By the time a bed becomes available, the patient has been medicated and released from either the Pavilion here or any other hospital in the region,” Tanner said. “Usually, they do not do well because once they are released, they get off their meds and the cycle starts all over.”

With the new hospital, patients experiencing mental health crisis will be able to get the help they need faster and closer to home.

“I am thrilled that the Lt. Governor listened and was willing to have the legislature approve the construction of this hospital,” Tanner said.

Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said he is grateful for the partnership with The Texas A&M University System.

“This truly is evidence of how the Panhandle continues to come together for the greater good of those most in need in our community,” Cole said. “This not only provides a location for the new hospital, but also provides a new space next to Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center that will facilitate an entire workforce development program that is greatly needed in the panhandle.”

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.8 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 23 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell

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