MCH board votes to endorse legislation

The Medical Center Hospital board on Friday voted 4-2 to endorse proposed legislation that would create the legal mechanism to create a new mental health services district to oversee a new behavioral health center.

Board members Mary Lou Anderson and Kathy Rhodes voted against the proposal after a more than two hour executive session. Don Hallmark was not at the meeting.

In 2021, state lawmakers passed legislation that included $40 million for the new center, which will be constructed and built by hospital districts in Midland and Ector counties. Medical Center Hospital CEO Russell Tippin and Russell Meyers, president of Midland Memorial Hospital are in the process of trying to secure the rest of the funding for the facility, which they hope to build on FM 1788.

House Bill 492, which is sponsored by Midland Republican State Rep. Tom Craddick, would create a mental health services district comprised of a Midland and Ector County board of directors.

During a committee hearing last week, Craddick testified the area is in desperate need of mental health services. He indicated the 2021 legislation that gave $40 million to the project was rushed and this new bill would help tighten up some details.

MCH Board Member Wallace Dunn on Thursday said there have been many meetings and planning sessions regarding the new Permian Basin Behavioral Health Center. “This legislation does not create a new hospital district, it merely creates the legal mechanism to do so for the purpose of receiving the property from the State of Texas.”

Dunn said ultimately each hospital board (MMH and MCH) will have to eventually vote in favor of creating the new mental health hospital district. “I fully support the building of the new facility and look forward to working with our partners at Midland Memorial Hospital on this joint venture between the Ector County and Midland County Hospital District.”

The text of the bill names a mental health services district but also uses references to a hospital district throughout the bill. There is currently no taxing authority in the bill.

Representatives of the Texas Facilities Commission testified last week they had no opinion on whether creating the new district is necessary. However, they said they will bend to “whatever the will of the legislature is.”

MCH CEO Russell Tippin on Friday said the board made the best decision based on the information that they have. Thursday, Tippin said he and the MCH thanked Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, and Craddick for their work.

“MCH recognizes that behavioral and mental health services are severely underserved in the Permian Basin. We will be great partners with MMH and look forward to serving our patients in this new line of service. MCH will always protect our hospital, taxpayers and patients first. “

Landgraf agreed the mental health facility is desperately needed and said the hospital’s board vote on a new mental health hospital district is important.

“I want to reflect what their view is on this process,” he added.