Group established for construction, initial operations of Lubbock mental health diversion center

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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The City of Lubbock and Lubbock County have approved an agreement establishing a committee to oversee construction and initial operations of the HOPE Center, a behavioral mental health crisis diversion center.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever, I think in my history, we’ve gotten everybody together with the six partners,” Councilwoman Latrelle Joy said.

Joy was referring to the West Texas Mental Health Collaborative, which will make up the steering committee. An Interlocal Agreement approved within the last week by the Lubbock City Council and Lubbock County Commissioners Court establishes the committee. Each contributed $3.5 million in ARPA funding for the center’s construction.

Each member of the Collaborative, including the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, UMC Health System, Covenant Health, Texas Tech University/Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, and StarCare Specialty Health System will appoint a “high-level” representative for the steering committee.

“[The HOPE Center] will be constructed out on the property where StarCare is located,” Joy said. “That is moving forward with architects so that we can begin building.”

StarCare CEO Beth Lawson told commissioners the committee would meet monthly. According to the agreement, the term would end a year following the grand opening of the center. During that time, it’s charged with recommending policies, improving coordination of and supporting construction, and initial operations. It’s also expected to provide recommendations for future operations and priorities of the center.

“We’re in the enviable position to be able to expand services to help people avoid going to emergency rooms, jail, physical medicine hospitals,” Lawson said. “We’re really excited about the additional capacity to support people.”

Lawson said the StarCare facility on East 19th Street is already “bursting at the seams” and plans to expand by 15 additional beds with its own ARPA funds. Lawson believes that expansion and the HOPE Center will allow StarCare to provide help to more people who should not be seeking assistance elsewhere.

“One of the main goals of the diversion center is to divert law enforcement from jail, from emergency rooms, and from having to be off their beat because they’re helping people access health care services,” Lawson said. “My motto, probably not the first day, but hopefully, the last day of the first year is drive in, drop off, and drive away. We want to help law enforcement not even have to get out of their car when they help people access services.”

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish and Lubbock City Councilwoman Latrelle Joy are expected to serve on the steering committee.

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