New Behavior Hospital Fills Huge Void in West Texas

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Local health care providers say we've needed it for a long time.                       

A place for those who need mental health care or have behavioral problems to receive constant care. 

A new hospital is almost finished, and we have a firsthand look inside.

A new type of behavioral hospital serving the entire Permian Basin will soon take over the Desert Springs building.

The behavioral hospital will provide 24/7 care for teens, adults, and geriatric patients as well as outpatient children. The new CEO says about four percent of the Midland/Odessa population is in desperate need of mental health services.

"It really is needed, the reception in Midland from the Medical Community has been overwhelming," Michael Cornelison, CEO, Permian Basin Behavioral Hospital, said.

Right now, Midland/Odessa patients are driving as far as San angelo and Lubbock to get help.

"Which involves a 2-3 hour ambulance ride," Cornelison said. "Coordinating the ambulance to get the patients, and with acute phsychiatric patients, timing is crucial."

The hospital will house 64 beds, and employ 90 physicians, nurses, and technicians.

"We are going to have acute psychiatric patients who have a psychiatric break, are going through emotional, mental crisis," Cornelison said.

They say the need is so great they'll be 65 percent capacity in just the first year.

"Much of that is due to a shortage of physicians and staff, not a shortage of patients," Cornelison said.

The new hospital will also help the police department dealing with involuntary patients.

"Many times people who are in a crisis wind up on the wrong side of the law and what they need is psychiatric intervention as opposed to being incarcerated," Cornelison said.

They're working with Texas Tech and local doctors in hopes of becoming a part of the community.

"Our goal for the hospital is simple," Cornelison said. "We want to provide quality mental health services to the people in the Permian Basin."

Construction started on the old Desert Springs building back in September, and hospital officials are planning to open the doors in early January.