An upgrade in capacity and atmosphere is on the way for the Dallas County mental health agency known as MetroCare.
An entirely new campus on Westmoreland Road near I-30 will replace a psychiatric hospital built in the 1940s.
A blue fence surrounds the site where demolition is finished and construction is underway.
Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia who represents the area said the new world-class facility will expand behavioral health care for residents.
“We’ve been lacking for this kind of services for many years, and, hey, this is a big improvement and we are very happy,” Garcia said.
The old buildings of the Beverly Hills Tuberculosis and Psychiatric Hospital were built in the 1940s. MetroCare began using portions of the campus in the 1970s.
The old place had fallen in such disrepair at the end that the agency was using just four of the 11 campus buildings.
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MetroCare CEO Dr. John Burruss said maintaining the old buildings had become a money pit.
“Part of MetroCare mission over the past decade has been to recreate ourselves, to re-envision ourselves,” Burruss said. “Where you feel good about coming, where you are welcome, where the staff feels good about asking you to come see them there.”
The new campus of 3 buildings will cost nearly $90 million. The money comes from a mix of donations and public money from MetroCare, Dallas County and Parkland Hospital, which is a MetroCare partner.
MetroCare staff and clients moved to temporary space on Sylvan Avenue to make way for construction at the hillside site.
Another MetroCare building across Westmoreland Road will remain open.
There is a DART bus service on Westmoreland to help clients reach MetroCare.
“This is an upgrade of an existing service at an existing location so I think it’s perfect. It’s perfect for us because it’s got great access. It’s right on I-30, great bus routes, so people can get to us and we can get out into the community very easily,” Burruss said.
Commissioner Garcia said the new facility is an example of boosting service to meet a growing need for behavioral health care that surged since the COVID-19 pandemic in all areas of the community with all ethnic groups.
“When we talk about homelessness, when we talk about the criminal justice system, mental health is a big component,” Garcia said. “We’re starting to think and put the money where it is needed and thinking outside of the box. And I think this is a big improvement.”
Ten other MetroCare locations will remain open and a new Pleasant Grove location is also planned which would bring the agency to 12 publicly funded places for behavioral health service in Dallas County.