North Texas State Hospital adolescent forensic program has new home

The North Texas State Hospital's adolescent forensic program now has a new home around Vernon.

Patients and staff will be moving to the Victory Field campus down the road from the original Vernon campus to provide in-patient psychiatric care to adolescents in the recovery program.

Staff, community members and Texas Health and Human Services commissioners gathered Tuesday morning to take a look at the newly renovated facility funded by the state.
Their goal- to provide more unique services to help adolescents overcome mental health problems.

"The excitement I think that everyone is feeling is seeing a building that really came online back in the early 1970's be refurbished, modernized, completely redone."

Hospital superintendent Jim Smith says the Victory Field transformation has been a long time coming.

"What I'm particularly excited about is we dedicate this building and prepare to move the adolescent forensic program to this new facility," Smith said.

Six years ago, the Texas Legislature dedicated $7.45 million to renovate the vacant building once used by the Texas Youth Commission and the building will continue serving the youth.
"This is going to be their facility," Charles Smith, Texas Health and Human Services executive commissioner Charles Smith said. "A place for hope and healing and where they will be working with our staff and we're so excited that the state made this possible."

Smith says the 45-thousand-square-foot facility will include several features, including a gym, classrooms and dorms. Classes will also be provided through Vernon ISD.

"If a boy or young man or young girl gets better and their behavior changes, then they're able to move them through the facility. That in of itself is an incentive," Smith said.

"Hopefully we can spare them on some of the hurts," Jim Smith said. "Some of the trials, some of the trauma that accompanies somebody's mental illness."

Smith says the new campus gives staff an opportunity to intervene in an adolescent's life, in order to put each patient on the path to responsible citizenship in Texas.

There are more than a thousand staff members at the original Vernon campus. Employees within the adolescent forensic program will begin moving into the new facility on Wednesday.

NTSH will start transferring patients to the Victory Field campus next week.

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