On Thursday, August 31st, the final meeting in preparation for Jasper County’s transition to the Spindletop Center out of Beaumont for mental health services was held at Jasper County’s Courthouse Annex in the City of Jasper.
The meeting, coordinated by Jasper County Judge Mark Allen’s office, the Jasper Hospital District, and the Spindletop Center was attended by close to one hundred representatives from across Jasper County including Superintendents and staff from the Jasper and Evadale Independent School Districts, Texas Department of Public Safety, Child and Adult Protective Services, Christus Jasper Memorial Hospital, the City of Jasper, the Jasper-Newton County Public Health District, Juvenile Probation, Constables, Sheriff’s Office and Commissioners from Precincts 1, 2 and 3, as well as representatives from local churches, shelters, ambulance services and healthcare providers.
This meeting concluded a series of meetings over the past several months between Spindletop and officials from Jasper County, the Hospital District, and Christus Jasper Memorial Hospital, with the official start date for Jasper County switching from the Burke Mental Health Authority in Lufkin to Spindletop on September 1st.
Previous meetings have been held with law enforcement and jail staff members, as well as members of the judiciary and the District Attorney’s Office on protocols for assisting individuals with mental health conditions in the criminal justice system when working through the Spindletop Center.
Judge Mark Allen welcomed the crowd and provided a brief history of Hardin County’s, and now Jasper County’s, migration from Burke to Spindletop for mental health services and the advantages for law enforcement and jail personnel in handling patients in mental health crisis.
Next, the group received a brief update from Jasper Hospital District board members Dr. Ron McMurry and James Gunter regarding progress made by the Hospital District in expanding services. Mr. Gunter explained that the Hospital District had acquired the former Burke Center facility on Marvin Hancock Drive in Jasper and will utilize the building to expand pediatric services for families in Jasper County.
Congressman Brian Babin arrived in a surprise visit and thanked the crowd for their outpouring of support for improving mental health services in Jasper County and in the Southeast Texas region. Congressman Babin advised that he originally planned to visit Jasper County to assess the major wildfire area in the Ebenezer Community but wanted to share his thoughts on the great need for expanded mental health response and services in Texas and in the United States.
Congressman Babin was followed by Spindletop Chief Executive Officer Holly Borel, Chief Clinical Officer Heather Champion, and Juvenile Services Director Crystal Bagby who explained the updated procedures that entities can follow or obtain assistance with individuals with mental health needs.
Ms. Borel further advised that although the Spindletop Center does not currently have a physical location in Jasper County at this time, the agency will be actively looking for opportunities to co-locate its offices with other agencies in north Jasper County to improve services. Meanwhile, Spindletop’s other locations are in Jefferson and Orange County, along with the new Spindletop service center in Silsbee in Hardin County. Additionally, citizens will be able to utilize telehealth options.
Spindletop was well received during this meeting and all parties left excited about the future partnership in assisting those with mental health conditions in Jasper County.