FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: City of Austin Communication and Public Information Office, 512-974-2220
Sobering Center names founding Executive Director
Rhonda G. Patrick will serve as the founding Executive Director of the new Austin-Travis County Sobering Center, a facility created to address public safety issues related to public intoxication more effectively than a jail cell.
The Sobering Center, a joint project between the City of Austin and Travis County, will provide an alternative for individuals who are either in the custody of law enforcement for the offense of public intoxication, or in the care of Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services for extreme alcohol or drug consumption. Transporting individuals to the Sobering Center takes much less time than arresting a person. It is anticipated that because of this, the number of bookings for public intoxication will drop.
The new Executive Director will be responsible for launching the Center, hiring staff, overseeing building renovations, improving public health and safety and relieving some of the financial burdens on the criminal justice and emergency medical systems.
Rhonda G. Patrick brings a wealth of experience to the position and will be responsible for opening the facility and future operations. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Administration from University of Houston and was most recently the Chief Executive Officer of the Behavioral Health Alliance of Texas, for which she secured and managed $2.5m in state and federal addiction and maternal health grants.
Ms. Patrick has been in the addictions and mental health recovery field for nearly 20 years. She has been a professional social worker, entrepreneur, and social service innovator for most of her professional life. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and accomplished executive. Ms. Patrick has worked in many distinct positions in the treatment industry and has gained firsthand experience in all of the different facets of how to effectively help others recover from addiction. Before coming to the Austin Travis County Sobriety Center, she served at some of the most well respected and trusted treatment centers in the world. She is often called on by others in the field as an expert on mental health, addiction and recovery, and stands on the front lines welcoming people into recovery programs.
Ms. Patrick said: “I would like to thank the Board of Directors for entrusting me with the honor to serve our city and county towards ensuring what is one of its most important missions, the safety and well-being of our citizens and visitors. I am looking forward to continuing our work with the business and community leadership, area social service providers, and our public officials as we integrate the Sobering Center into the existing continuum of care.”
She added: “We want the Sobering Center to provide a safe environment for publicly intoxicated individuals to sober up and, when appropriate, initiate recovery. We are aiming to enhance public health and public safety by providing an alternative to the emergency room and jail.”
The Center is due to open next summer at 1213 Sabine Street, on the site of the former Travis County Medical Examiner’s facility, which is being renovated.
A non-profit local governmental corporation was formed to oversee the Center by Travis County and the City of Austin in 2016 after a collaborative stakeholder process. Judge Nancy Hohengarten serves as Board Chair and board members include Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Commissioner Margaret Gómez.
Margaret Gómez, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 4, said: “The Sobering Center is an opportunity for those who have made serious mistakes regarding alcohol and drugs to begin the process to correct their mistakes and find the treatment they need. I congratulate Rhonda Patrick and look forward to working with her during her tenure.”
Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge, said: “Congratulations are in order to Rhonda Patrick as she takes on the role of Executive Director of the Sobriety Center. With her experience and talent, Rhonda and the Sobriety Center will provide Travis County residents with a public health alternative to the criminal justice process.”
For more information go to soberingcenter.org