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Officials say new prison hospital will cut inmate medical costs

Posted October 19, 2011

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— The newest taxpayer-funded hospital in North Carolina is one that most state residents will never visit for care.

The $155 million health complex in Central Prison replaces medical facilities built in the 1960s and 1970s. Prison officials will begin transferring inmates to the new hospital in mid-November, and demolition of the old hospital will begin a couple weeks later.

"We are limited in our old facility. We're having to take so many more folks out even to see a doctor in his office after hours," Jennie Lancaster, deputy secretary of the state Department of Correction, said Wednesday during a tour of the new hospital.

Last year, more than 4,700 inmates visited a hospital emergency room in Raleigh, and more than 1,700 were admitted to outside hospitals, officials said. Inmate medical costs topped $90 million.

Lancaster said the prison spent $11 million alone on correctional officers to go with inmates to the hospitals and guard them there.

Many of those inmates will now be cared for in the the new 315,000-square-foot health complex inside the prison. The complex adds more than 100 inpatient and mental health beds, from 230 in the old facilities to 336, and provides operating rooms, outpatient clinics, a dental clinic, a lab for tests and a pharmacy.

"The current census for mental health is bulging at the seems, and we greatly need more space," said Dr. Peter Kuhns, manager of the psychology program at Central Prison.

The new five-story mental health facility will provide everything from crisis to long-term treatment. All of the furniture in the wing is designed to be indestructible, with tables and chairs either bolted to the floor or weighted down with sand.

Prison officials began planning the new complex began in 1998, and it has been under construction for more than three years. Lancaster said the cost of using outside hospitals for inmate medical care is expected to drop by about 30 percent a year, which would mean the complex would pay for itself within 10 years.

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  • saraann920 Oct 21, 2011

    Isn't it nice we build this nice huge brand new prision that has flat screen TVs and our state employees have not received a raise in 3 years and we are cutting teachers?

  • fayncmike Oct 20, 2011

    ""There should not be a death row in the first place. Why should we lower ourselves to the lever of the killers? fayncmike"

    Because it's the current law and saves money in the end (pun intended). They had said it costs us more to execute condemned than to keep them alive but that was debunked.
    gunny462"

    It's simple accounting.
    even those that support state sanctioned murder admit it's not cost effective. Let me see your proof to the contrary.

  • fayncmike Oct 20, 2011

    ""Can you prove that it won't? fayncmike"

    Can you prove that it will? As we're the ones spending the money on these inmates and their care THAT'S what's important. It seems that all you read about now is how it'll save money and 1 year later you find out that it's exactly the opposite and you're spending MORE money.
    gunny462"

    Not how it works. I cited the article. It's up to you to refute it. You made the statement without any backup at all, I have the article. Now, about that proof????

  • kermit60 Oct 20, 2011

    Let me get this straight. These people are in prison because they in one way or another broke the laws of our society. We punish them by giving them better healthcare than most of their victims can recieve or afford. I'm suprised obama didn't come up with this plan also.

  • gunny462 Oct 20, 2011

    "There should not be a death row in the first place. Why should we lower ourselves to the lever of the killers? fayncmike"

    Because it's the current law and saves money in the end (pun intended). They had said it costs us more to execute condemned than to keep them alive but that was debunked.

  • gunny462 Oct 20, 2011

    "Something that pays for itself! Hmm. seems like I've heard that before thinkin out loud"

    "Can you prove that it won't? fayncmike"

    Can you prove that it will? As we're the ones spending the money on these inmates and their care THAT'S what's important. It seems that all you read about now is how it'll save money and 1 year later you find out that it's exactly the opposite and you're spending MORE money.

  • fayncmike Oct 20, 2011

    "Yep,give those prisoners the best healthcare available no matter what it costs.... especially the ones on death row.
    Tax Man"

    There should not be a death row in the first place. Why should we lower ourselves to the lever of the killers?

  • Tax Man Oct 19, 2011

    Yep,give those prisoners the best healthcare available no matter what it costs.... especially the ones on death row.

  • UNC PH.d Oct 19, 2011

    Well, inmates are inmates, but a legal statute (somewhere) says we have to provide them care...physical and mental. I work in a State building and we have inmates who take out the trash, clean up, etc. Most of them are "normal" people just like you and I. The real bad ones don't get out of the prison on work release, but either way...if we let them get sick/die because of lack of care the State will have their families suing the State into ruin....so pick your poison..

  • fayncmike Oct 19, 2011

    "Something that pays for itself! Hmm. seems like I've heard that before
    thinkin out loud"

    Can you prove that it won't?

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