Local News

Walkaways From Dorothea Dix Hospital Not Uncommon

Posted June 17, 2004

— After Wendell Williamson walked away from Dorothea Dix Hospital last week, Raleigh City Council member Philip Isley asked hospital officials for its security steps. A new memo sheds some light on that incident and how often patients walk away from the facility.

According to the memo from the Raleigh Police Department, a health care technician watching Williamson stepped away to do paperwork.

The memo also stated there have been a total of 21 "walk-offs" from Dix since January. Forty "walk-offs" were reported last year. All patients are now accounted for.

According to the memo, in most cases, those who walked away from the facility headed to the Farmer's Market or to a fast-food place to eat. Last year, two patients left campus by bus. They were later found with relatives.

Williamson shot and killed two people in Chapel Hill nine years ago. The diagnosed schizophrenic has been in the state health care system ever since. Williamson disappeared from the campus last Thursday night. The next morning, he called from a boat ramp seven miles away.

Many patients, including Williamson, were allowed unsupervised time as part of their treatment. Williamson's privileges have since been taken away.

Isley said he still wants to know how Williamson wound up seven miles away. A representative for Dorothea Dix Hospital said that information is part of a confidential patient file.

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