Local Politics

Dix Patients Expected to Be Moved by End of February

Posted December 5, 2007
Updated December 7, 2007

— A legislative oversight committee met Wednesday to discuss a plan to move patients when Dorothea Dix Hospital closes next year and patients are moved to a new facility in Granville County.

Construction on Central Regional Hospital in Butner isn't expected to be complete until mid-January. Patients will be moved by the end of February.

The committee also heard from the public, which voiced concerns that the plan is moving too fast and that patients' concerns have not fully been addressed.

In a letter to the Legislative Oversight Committee, some patients wrote: "Please remember while you are assessing the hospital closings, we are living, breathing people and citizens."

"Families have been put through hell," said patient advocate Louise Fisher, who is angry and disappointed that patients from Dix and John Umstead Hospital are being moved to Central Regional Hospital. "The whole plan is too fast. It wasn't thought through."

State leaders expressed similar sentiments.

"Let's make sure that there are sufficient staffed beds for patients who need help before we close beds," state Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, said.

Last month, Wake County commissioner Tony Gurley announced a partnership with the state tokeep a temporary in-patient facility open as the hospital moves to the new Butner buildings.

The interim agreement, which would last up to three years, will keep 24 beds online for Wake County until it builds its own facility. The beds will be located in a building on the Dix campus, but it will not be considered Dorothea Dix Hospital.

"We would run those beds, and Wake County would finance those beds," said Mike Mosely, director of the North Carolina Mental Health Division. "The department has decided they wish to increase that capacity up to 60 beds."

The state will pay for the difference.

The oversight committee doesn't have authority to slow the process. The General Assembly has that power, but it is not in session until the spring.

What to do with the 306-acre Dix campus south of downtown Raleigh has been up for debate for years. But that was not part of Wednesday's hearing.

The city of Raleigh wants to buy the land from the state for $10.5 million to create a Central Park-like attraction. Three advocacy groups support that idea and have been trying to raise money to help the park along.

"The Dix Visionaries plan will propel the state that we live into the forefront of our nation," said Gregory Poole, a member of that group.

Critics argue, however, that the city's purchase of the land is not a done deal.

"The city of Raleigh is a bit premature in making the offer," said Sen. Vernon Malone, D-Wake.

The state has not decided what to do with the property. Gov. Mike Easley suggested at one point putting the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters on the site. Others want a mix of housing, offices and retail.

"It has been a very long and hard process," said state Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake. "It may well go into '09."

34 Comments

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  • aintbackingdwn Dec 6, 4:10 p.m.

    We keep hearing about the school shortage. Turn it into a school. No brainer here. I guess its in the wrong section of Raleigh.

  • cranky Dec 6, 8:53 a.m.

    The oversight committee can't slow the process of Dix closing, but the General Assembly CAN? Why can't the governor call a special EMERGENCY Meeting? It's too bad that the patients of these 2 hospitals don't have a louder voice. Families are going to have to travel to Butner to visit. Not to mention the employees & police who are going to have to be carrying these patients up to Butner from Raleigh. Gas expected to be around $4.00 a gal. The old saying "Money talks & BS walks". The placing of the new hospital was all politically motivated. We were told a few yrs back by the secretary of DHHS(gone now, to a private healthcare up in NYC) that the new hospital was in the center of the state!!!!!! Yeah right & if she thought we believed that, I've got a bridge I could sell her. And by the way state offices are moving in here, as the state is repaving roads & fixing up the buildings of which there are some state offices already on campus in them. Governor Easley call a meeting.

  • Con Amor Dec 6, 7:47 a.m.

    As it is, there are not enough long term care fac for mental patients. It is unreal to me that they would close another. I have a friend who's has a 19 yr old son who is VERY mentaly ill and DANGEROUS! He even got kicked out of the public school special education system at 16 for being too violent. He is a serious threat to her and to the public. He does not need to be in jail, because he has no control of his actions. But, she has no where to put him. How many people will he have to hurt or kill before the state and the public realize that there is a serious need for mental facilities?

  • Mustange Dec 5, 7:49 p.m.

    Why cant we use it to bring a major source of employment to the region. One that pays good money and good benefits and put people to work. We can build cars or trucks their or something other than hogs and turkeys.

  • rand321 Dec 5, 7:26 p.m.

    if the city and state were smart, they would develop the areas along the road frontage, with buildings already. This should be able to generate funds for mental health services as well as providing for park development. To keep the entire 306 as a park woudl entail teraring down a lot of structres already.

    There is no reason public/private development cannot give something to everyone.

  • colliedave Dec 5, 4:45 p.m.

    The city of Raleigh wants to buy the land from the state for $10.5 million to create a Central Park-like attraction

    Face it, Central Prison is not moving and is, in fact, expanding with a new hospital scheduled to be build on the site.
    There is no way, except in the muddled mind of Meeker the land will be anything close to what Central Park is to NYC. Who would pay big dollars to live next to the Big House?

  • fredssmithisnotmysenator Dec 5, 11:57 a.m.

    I think Fred Smith should be allowed to cut down all the beautiful trees and construct a house on every 0.10 acre...just like he has done in Johnston County. Go Fred!

  • Weetie Dec 5, 11:46 a.m.

    The City of Raleigh has been talking about what to do with Dix for years - I know definitely since 1981. My dad worked there at that time, my sister and brother-in-law retired from there in the mid 90's and they are still trying to figure out what to do with the property.

    I have a suggestion. Leave it open for people who need mental health care. (There should be no shortage on clients!)

  • dwntwnboy Dec 5, 10:59 a.m.

    "If they make it a park, there will certainly be drugs and thugs"...funny. I live near Pullen Park and directly next to the Dorothea Dix property- our neighborhood is the ONLY one that actually shares a border with this property without having a street between. The problem of "drugs and thugs" doesn't seem to be a problem at Pullen Park, so why should a bigger park nearby be any different? Go to Pullen any time there is good weather and you will see that the parks are well used and VERY crowded. We need green spaces for all these high-rise living folks in these mixed-use developments to stretch and get some fresh air. Parks are good and only increase the value of everything around them.

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Dec 5, 10:54 a.m.

    Since they have most of the Department of Health and Human Services out there anyway, build more offices for the rest of DHHS and relocate them. DHHS has offices all over Raleigh. That way we could tear down the old cra**y buildings (like the one I work in) and use that space to revitalize downtown.

    Plus they could use the parking decks for the much needed parking downtown.

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