City commissioners approve hospital expansion

HARLINGEN — The city has amended an incentives package to help a developer expand a psychiatric hospital that will create about 225 jobs.

Last night, city commissioners approved the amendment of agreements in which the city and the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. offered financial incentives to developer Strategic Behavioral Health.

The amendments come after the developer requested its construction completion date be pushed back from Jan. 31 to Oct. 1 to expand the Palms Behavioral Health center.

The city has offered the developer $200,000 for job creation to be paid over a four-year period.

Meanwhile, the EDC has offered $1,000 to $1,500 for each job created, depending on the job’s pay scale.

Originally, Strategic Behavioral Health planned to include 72 beds in a 52,000-square-foot building at the corner of Hale Avenue and Victoria Lane.

Now, the developer plans to add 11,000 square feet to the hospital while expanding capacity to 94 beds.

The expansion will boost the project’s cost to $13 million.

“Health care in general in Harlingen has continued to grow at a steady pace,” Raudel Garza, the EDC’s chief executive officer, said before the meeting.

Garza said the area’s need for more psychiatric beds led Strategic Behavioral Health to expand the project.

“It’s something that’s needed,” Garza said.

The hospital will add psychiatric beds in Cameron County, where services lag behind Hidalgo County, Garza said before the meeting.

Now, Garza said, Cameron County has 37 in-patient psychiatric beds and 55 additional beds at Rio Grande State Hospital.

Meanwhile, Hidalgo County has 212 in-patient beds, Garza said.

Palms Behavioral Health plans to staff the hospital with psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and nurses.

Memphis-based Strategic Behavioral Health operates hospitals in College Station, El Paso, Las Vegas, Nev., and Colorado Springs, Colo.