City’s mental health, substance-use facility drops capacity from 140 to 45

Pandemic, recent drop in funding resulted in September’s massive cut back

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio funds the only residential facility in Bexar County that treats co-occurring conditions, meaning people with both substance use and mental health disorders.

It’s called the Integrated Treatment Program (ITP) facility and it’s run by the city’s Center for Health Care Services.

A drop in funding this fiscal year has forced some major changes.

“We’re festive right now with the holidays!” said ITP Program director Tina Cisneros, as she led KSAT on a tour through the center.

Despite big cutbacks, positivity remains the priority in the place of recovery.

For years, the facility has had 140 beds that were city-funded at $704,000.

Cisneros said that funding historically only covered half of the expenses, and the program was typically in the red.

When the pandemic hit, the center received an additional $474,218 each year in federal ARPA funds. Most of that was used for pandemic-related safety protocols.

“Our beds were full or close to full. Once COVID occurred, we saw a significant decrease in that,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros said safety restrictions and social distancing made it tough to fill, or even staff a dorm setting like theirs.

So while that funding began to spread more evenly, it ended this fiscal year.

That extra money dried up this September, so the city was left with a big decision.

“That led to the reduction to 45 beds,” Cisneros said.

It also meant a reduction of staff members to 10 manning a 24/7 facility.

The center’s staff monitors clients, does hourly rounds, makes sure they take their medications, and helps them get to meetings, appointments, or peer programming.

The center itself is strictly a residential facility, and the treatment piece lies outside of the dorm.

The mental health clients have care managers setting them up with appointments with counselors of psychiatrists at Haven for Hope’s clinics.

The substance use treatment is through an outpatient program across the street.

While the ITP’s funding cap is for 10 staff members, there are currently only eight.

“It is difficult to onboard individuals that want to work overnight,” Cisneros said.

That’s why the city landed on 45 beds, what they determined was the safe amount for a staff-to-client ratio.

Cisneros said it offers a better focus on recovery.

She led us through the facility’s recreation day room, saying, “Our clients get very creative and do a lot of art-focused recovery. We try to encourage positive affirmations, positive self-talk.”

The walls are covered in artwork, stickers, and encouraging quotes.

Haven for Hope next door, does intake for the clients who have to meet specific criteria to enter the ITP.

Right now, the facility only has 35 of the 45 beds filled, but Haven is now continuing referrals, slowly increasing that client number.

As the client numbers begin to swell again, the facility hopes for outside funding.

“Recently we received a donation from Turner Construction in the amount of $5,000, which is very helpful,” Cisneros said.

To some organizations of that scale, it would be a seemingly small amount, but it goes a long way.

“It can go to painting the walls, or buying art supplies, just things the clients need,” Cisneros said.

  • To learn more about the program or intake, head to the Center for Health Care Services website.
  • The 24-hour Crisis & Substance Use Helpline numbers are: (210) 223-7233 or (800) 316-9241
  • For routine appointments, you can call: (833) 501-2427.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.