Ribbon cutting helps Vernon NTSH campuses

VERNON,TX(RNN Texoma) - New renovations mean more patients can be taken care of at the North Texas State Hospital campuses in Vernon after Tuesday's ribbon cutting at the renovated Victory Field campus.

The hospital's Adolescent Forensic Program will relocate to the renovated campus housing, 61 patients, which will open 21 rooms for adults at the main campus. The two Vernon campuses are two of the few state hospitals that treat those in the criminal justice system.

"It sends a message to those boys and girls who will be here. That we have not forgotten them," Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner, Charles Smith said.

"More people in Texas are waiting for the opportunity to be admitted to one of our state hospitals than there are beds available," NTSH-Vernon Superintendent, Jim Smith said.

"What we have seen and continue to see is as our state population continues to grow so does the mental health behavioral needs," Exec. Comm. Smith said.

Two-thirds of the facility is dedicated to the young men since they make up the majority of the patients.

There are high-security dormitories for patients considered "high-risk" and unable to live among the general population. Typically three patients live in that part of the facility and have their own rooms. Once their psychiatrist believes they are no longer "high-risk," then they graduate to the rest of the facility.

Superintendent Smith said almost $8 million state funding was used for renovations to make it one of the most advanced state hospitals in Texas.

"We're looking forward to continuing to expand this model as we move across the state with other facilities," Exec. Comm. Smith said. This year's Texas state legislature allocated $460 million for similar renovation projects at other state hospitals.

Move in day at the Victory Field campus is Wednesday. Slight renovations will be made at the dorms in the main campus left vacant by the adolescents moving. North Texas State Hospital-Vernon Superintendent Smith said the renovations should be done in two to three months.

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