Monthly Update
January 2014

CCC Board of Directors Meetings:

  • Next Meeting is scheduled to be held:  Tuesday, January 27, 2015 from 1:00-3:30 PM.


  • The CCC Board meeting dates for 2015 are tentatively scheduled for 2:00 PM on the following dates and are subject to change pending Board approval:

o   4/7/15

o   8/11/15

o   9/22/15


:: 512-978-8164

Contact: Mark Hernandez
A Note from the CMO  


Mark Hernandez, MD
Chief Medical Officer


In January of 2006, I was working a month-long stint in the University Medical Center Brackenridge (UMCB) emergency department, admitting patients for the internal medicine service.  During this time, I received a call from an emergency medicine physician in the then adjacent Children's Hospital of Austin (CHOA) who wanted me to admit a 16 year old depressed, homicidal boy to UMCB. The child had threatened his mother for several days prior, and on the day of the call, had actually assaulted her. The police brought the boy to CHOA because he was obviously emotionally disturbed. The pediatric service at CHOA refused to admit him out of safety concerns for the other children in the hospital. I ended up admitting him to UMCB with a sitter to await a psychiatric consultation the following morning.

When I think of that episode now, I am amazed at how far we have come in 9 years. Today, the boy would probably first be evaluated by ATCIC's mobile crisis outreach team (MCOT) and then transported to the Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department where he could receive immediate evaluation by a psychiatric team in safe and secure surroundings. These advances, and many more, have occurred largely because of the planning and work of the Psychiatric Services Stakeholders 


Committee and other behavioral health stakeholder groups within the community, which are highlighted in this month's newsletter. Perhaps more than any other service segment in our community, behavioral health has made the most positive strides to increase access to care in the last 5 years.


Thanks to all who have worked so hard on making this progress possible.



Community Planning for Mental Health Services


To help ensure a healthy, productive community, individuals must be educated on, and have timely access to, both medical and behavioral health care services.  The impact of not receiving needed behavioral health services is costly for the impacted individual and his/her family as well as the larger community.


Consider the following statistics reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at 

  • One in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year, and one in 17 live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Adults living with a serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions. 
  • Approximately 20 percent of state prisoners and 21 percent of local jail prisoners have "a recent history" of a mental health condition.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44. 

To help ensure that Central Texans have timely access to behavioral health care that addresses different levels of needs, the community has formed a number of stakeholder groups to collaborate on identifying these needs and planning evidence-based interventions to increase access to care.  This article describes some of these stakeholder groups and some of the results of their planning efforts.  


Stakeholder Groups


Psychiatric Services Stakeholders Committee (PSS).  This group has been meeting since 2005 to address a critical community need for additional access to psychiatric crisis services. The stakeholder partners include leadership from the City of Austin, Travis County, Central Health, Austin Travis County Integral Care (ATCIC) -- the local mental health authority, private hospitals and community foundations and providers.  While focused primarily on crisis services, the PSS also works to guide the development and implementation of an integrated behavioral health care system to include a full continuum of mental health and substance use disorder services. The committee focuses on high level policy and funding initiatives and decision making.  


The Crisis Services Implementation Committee (CIC) advances the work of the PSS by focusing on system coordination and communication improvements. In addition, the CIC makes recommendations to the PSS on specific issues that need policy or funding decisions. Ad-hoc workgroups are created, as necessary, to address specific issues and report back to the PSS with recommendations and/or findings. The members of this committee include key leaders who bring a strategic understanding of the community behavioral health system to the planning process.


Behavioral Health Advisory Committee ( BHAC).  The BHAC is led by Judge Nancy Hohengarten and convenes key members of the behavioral health, criminal justice and housing communities to coordinate planning efforts to support individuals with behavioral health care needs and promote public safety.


Substance Use Planning Group.  This group is convened by ATCIC to create a community strategic plan focused on substance use services.  The group will make recommendations to the PSS in 2015 on specific priorities and strategies. 


All the workgroups in our community coordinate and communicate in order to ensure their efforts are aligned and that stakeholders are informed.


Behavioral Health Strategic Plan 2015-2019


Results of Prior Planning Efforts.  The impact of the dedicated stakeholder groups working in the area of behavioral health is significant. 

  • A model of an ideal continuum of behavioral health care services for Travis County was collaboratively developed and is used to help identify gaps in care and propose new programs as funding is identified.  The model identifies service needs from the least intense at the bottom of the pyramid to the most intense at the top. 


  • The consistent commitment of these groups has resulted in the expansion of existent but underfunded services as well as the creation of new behavioral health services for Central Texans.
  • The past planning work laid the groundwork for over half of the county's 1115 DSRIP Waiver projects to be primarily focused on behavioral health services and provide new opportunities for care at all levels of the care continuum pyramid.
  • New commitments from the St. David's Foundation, ATCIC, and Central Health will add services through a mental health crisis center, which will offer crisis stabilization for 24-48 hours.  

Looking Forward.  To ensure that service expansion and transformation is coordinated and efficiently and effectively planned, the community recently completed a community Behavioral Health Strategic Plan to guide efforts for the next five years.  The plan benefitted from input from a number of organizations and consumers.  Specifically, the plan focuses on the following areas: 

  • Monitoring the impact and sustainability of new community investments and the 1115 Medicaid waiver projects;
  • Ensuring coordination of services which collectively function as a system of care; and
  • Identifying and addressing additional gaps in the behavioral health system.

The stakeholders continue to honor the community commitment to a system of care that balances crisis and outpatient services. 


Our vision is that Central Texas has a fully-integrated health system with no "wrong door" for access.


To this end, the following goals have been established:


Develop a health system that will:


GOAL 1. 

Provide strong linkage and transitions between different levels of care for behavioral health in the health care system


GOAL 2. 

Expand patient access to the right behavioral health care in the right place at the right time


GOAL 3. 

Integrate behavioral and physical health into community based health services that promote prevention, recovery and wellness


GOAL 4. 

Continue to collaborate on system improvements, monitor and evaluate impact and report findings in the behavioral health system 


The full behavioral health strategic plan is in the process of being finalized.  Once complete, it will be made available to all community partners. Individual organizations, stakeholder groups and other care providers can use the plan to align and prioritize efforts in order to continue to transform individually funded services into an integrated delivery system that creates a model healthy community.

Leader Spotlights    


Lisa Owens, CPA, is a Senior Healthcare Planner at Central Health. Her primary responsibility is supporting Central Health's role as a convener of behavioral health stakeholder groups which provide leadership and collaborative community planning to a critical component of the continuum of care. In addition, she leads strategic planning projects for both stakeholder groups and Central Health's affiliated organizations. Prior to joining Central Health, Lisa served in several executive leadership roles in health care nonprofit organizations including AIDS Services of Austin and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  She has a degree in mathematics from Clemson University and spent six years in accounting and financial consulting before moving to Texas to pursue her master's degree in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.  

System Facility Updates

Central Health Downtown Campus Redevelopment


The next Central Health community forum on the Downtown Campus redevelopment has been scheduled for March 6,2015, in order to appropriately respond to and incorporate the high level of interest shown by the community at the initial forum seeking community input in November.  Scheduling this event in March at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas allows Central Health to prepare for and build anticipation for the event by conducting outreach to a larger, more diverse group in the community through a follow up internet survey and telephone survey, consumer surveys in clinics, and by asking to present to areagroups and organizations. 

Please complete our survey at or contact if you would like to schedule a presentation to your group or organization.  


Check for regular updates at    

University of Texas Dell Medical School



Dell Medical School Is Taking Shape.  Progress at the Dell Medical School is highlighted in its 2014 Year In Review, including announcements about the school's growing team, creation of the Livestrong Cancer Institutes, and the transition of 600+ faculty and residents under the school's umbrella. If you're passing by 15th Street and Red River, you will notice lots of construction activity, with nearly all of the planned eight cranes for the site now in operation. Buildings are scheduled to open in May 2016, and the Dell Medical School will welcome its first students in July 2016 (pending accreditation). Stay up to date via Dean Clay Johnston's #IHopeDellMed blog. 

Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas


Building Begins:  Forest of Construction Cranes Heralds True Start for New Seton Teaching Hospital.  Seton is buildinga new teaching hospital on the medical campus to serve as the primary training facility for the Dell Medical School. The hospital will have 211 licensed beds including 60 critical care beds, 41 emergency treatment rooms, and 16 operating rooms.


Three cranes are now on site on the future teaching hospital campus.  Assembly of the three cranes marks the end of Seton site preparation and the true beginning of construction. Cranes on the hospital site are surrounded by additional cranes building The University of Texas' Dell Medical School and medical research facilities.

The first and second cranes on the Seton site were assembled earlier this month. The third crane is being installed the week of Jan. 19. All three cranes will be operational by Feb. 1.


The new hospital is scheduled to open in 2017. Here is a link to an animated "fly around" video that shows what the hospital will look like: