Prisoner patient transfer to new hospital on hold
Posted November 21, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — The state is delaying the move of more than 200 Central Prison inmate patients to a new medical complex because fundamental issues regarding the new facility still need to be addressed.
Officials with the North Carolina Division of Prisons said Monday that those items include a central system for oxygen to reach patient cells and the operating room, water filtration equipment and electrical outlets for radiology equipment.
Prisoners were supposed to be transferred earlier this month to the new $155 million, 315,000-square-foot facility, and demolition on the old one was set to begin by the end of the month. Officials don't have a new date for the move but hope it will happen in mid-December.
According to a recently released 46-page internal audit, the transition is critical because the growing inmate population with its infrastructure limitations has proven extremely difficult.
The facility, which was built in the 1960s and 1970s, is also affecting the state's ability to recruit and retain critical staff, the audit also says.
The Division of Prisons requested the review of the inpatient mental health program to make sure any concerns and problems were addressed before the move.
It also found that staff neglected inmates with serious mental illnesses. Inspectors discovered inmates were locked up in isolation for weeks on end, there were pools of human waste in cells, reported pest problems, incorrect dosing of inmates, faulty record-keeping and chronic understaffing.
A day after the report came out last spring, Warden Gerald Branker announced his planned retirement, effective Nov. 1.
His replacement, Kenneth Lassiter, started Monday. Lassiter was previously the superintendent at the Charlotte Correctional Center.
Department of Correction officials hope that new leadership and a modern facility will help ensure inmate patients are receiving the best treatment possible.