The School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also called UT Health San Antonio, and nonprofit Crosspoint Inc. broke ground on the Women’s Wellness Campus, to expand care for the community’s most vulnerable women and children.
Those include pregnant and parenting mothers recovering from substance-use disorders and their children, as well as human trafficking victims, homeless veterans, and women in need of recovery and supportive housing services following hospitalization for mental illness. This will become the state’s first campus of its kind to also operate a primary care clinic and specialty nursery for its residents.
The university’s School of Nursing currently partners with Crosspoint – a longtime provider of behavioral health, community justice and residential transitional services – on a 20-bed recovery home for mothers and their children called Casa Mia, in San Antonio’s Monte Vista neighborhood.
The new 10,200-square-foot Casa Mia residential facility at 1526 Semlinger Road, on the city’s east side, will double the number of beds to 40 for women and children. A 7,600-square-foot integrative wellness center will house the primary care clinic, 24-hour specialty nursery and a behavioral health unit. Those buildings, plus an administration building, are expected to be completed by December 2022.
Future construction will add four buildings, including three residential housing units and a kitchen/dining facility, extending total space to 43,200 square feet on the overall 2.9-acre site. The total cost of the campus is projected to top $9 million.
“The aim of this campus is to provide a comprehensive wellness program that will offer better health outcomes and quality of life for our community’s most vulnerable women and children,” said William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio.
“The Women’s Wellness Campus vision is to broaden the current scope of services to interrupt the intergenerational cycle of homelessness, trauma and behavioral health issues for women by offering expanded access points to our residential and clinical services at critical junctures of vulnerability,” said Kevin Downey, PhD, president and CEO of Crosspoint Inc. “This allows women with their children to access the resources needed to obtain stable housing, education, career training and gainful employment for lasting self-sufficiency and wellness.”
The UT Health School of Nursing has contributed more than $2 million in grant funding from the Texas Department of State Health Services to begin construction of the new campus. Crosspoint is now operating a capital campaign to raise the additional funds needed to complete the campus.
Since Casa Mia has consistently operated at 80% or more of capacity, the need to build and expand is critical. The School of Nursing will continue to provide educational classes in nutrition, parenting, health, infant care and physical activities, and assist Crosspoint staff in coordinating social activities for mothers and their children.
“We were one of the first programs to allow mothers with substance-use disorders to recover with their babies or young children,” said Lisa Cleveland, PhD, APRN, FAAN, a professor with the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing.
“Traditionally, women in treatment were separated from their children,” she said. “But we have found that mothers who can recover in stable housing with their babies develop a stronger bond with their children and are more motivated to recover.”
Originally focused on opioid-use disorders, the program has expanded to include any type of substance-use disorder.
In addition to those services, the School of Nursing will staff the primary care clinic and nursery on the new site and provide patient oversight, as part of its clinical enterprise outreach, and eventually will offer behavioral health care.
As construction progresses, the campus will provide recovery residences and services for women already served by Crosspoint, including homeless veterans and women in the justice system, such as those involved in human trafficking or those released from behavioral health hospitals who need lower-level residential and clinical services.
The land for the campus was purchased from the Emmanuel AME Church, which will remain next door. A 19-member community Visioning Committee chaired by Sister Gabriela Lohan from the Sisters of the Holy Spirit has guided the project’s vision and has included members such as State Rep. Ina Minjarez and Bexar County Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert.