WICHITA FALLS STATE HOSPITAL
WICHITA FALLS STATE HOSPITAL. The Wichita Falls State Hospital for the mentally ill is seven miles southwest of the business district of Wichita Falls. The hospital was established as the Northwest Texas Insane Asylum by an act of the Thirty-fifth Legislature in 1917, and the first patients were admitted on January 31, 1922. Overseen by the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, the institution received white mental patients from sixty-two counties in northwest Texas. The institution was laid out on the "cottage plan" with completely equipped medium-sized wards. A chicken ranch, hog ranch, ice plant, dairy, laundry, mattress factory, power plant, and florist building were also maintained. A chapel, built in 1938, was the center of patients' recreational and religious activities. An occupational therapy building was also constructed in 1938. A replacement program for patients was begun in January 1944. In 1945 the hospital had 1,072 male patients and 1,280 female patients. Total capacity was 2,485 patients. In 1951 the Vernon State Home in Vernon was activated as a branch of the Wichita Falls State Hospital, and in 1964 it cared for an average of 431 aged psychotic patients. Daily census of the two institutions in 1967 was 2,359. An outpatient clinic operated to provide follow-up care for the patients furloughed or discharged from the hospital. The Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1965 abolished the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, deemphasizing residence in institutions. In 1969 the Wichita Falls unit had 1,950 patients, while the Vernon Center had 275. That same year, the Vernon Center was designated a state mental hospital and separated from the Wichita Falls unit, and a community center for mental health and mental retardation services was established at Wichita Falls. Also that year the treatment program at Wichita Falls State Hospital was expanded by the addition of special programs for geriatric and mentally retarded patients, a new physical therapy department, an outpatient clinic for children under ten years old, and a new outpatient clinic at Mineral Wells. The training program for professional staff was also expanded. The average daily census for 1970 was 1,348. The institutional policy change was reflected in the number of residence and community center patients after 1970. The hospital had 991 patients in 1976, 500 in 1986, and 480 in 1992. The community center had 806 patients in 1976, 2,400 in 1986, and 1,800 in 1992.