In 2001, when Dr. Alan Podawiltz first came to JPS Health Network, about 5,000 patients passed through the 10th floor of the Tarrant County hospital each year. 

In the more than two decades since, that number has grown to nearly 20,000. “In the same space,” said Podawiltz, a psychiatrist and the chair of behavioral health at JPS.

The 10th floor is the psychiatric emergency room, a place where people come when they’re experiencing “the worst crisis in their lives,” he told a crowd of JPS and community leaders beneath a tent and bright sky on Oct. 26. 

They’d gathered for a ceremonial ground-breaking to celebrate the construction of the county hospital’s new Psychiatric Emergency Center, the first project coming to fruition with the help of the $800 million bond package voters approved in November 2018. The center will be built along Allen Street at South Jennings Avenue.

The plan is to begin construction before the end of the year, Dr. Karen Duncan, the president and CEO of JPS Health Network, told the Report after the ceremony.

A hallmark of the new center is simply its size and, consequently, an increased ability to offer patients a sense of respect, Duncan said. The 10th floor has about 30 patient care spaces; the new center will hold more than 90, she said. 

“You come in, everybody’s eyes are not on you.”

Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Alexis Allison covers health for the Fort Worth Report. When she can, she'll slip in an illustration or two. Allison is a former high school English teacher and hopes her journalism is likewise educational....