Local News

Dorothea Dix Hospital In Danger Of Losing Federal Funding

Posted February 10, 2000

— Dorothea Dix Hospitalis in trouble. Allegations of poor patient care and staffing shortages have put the hospital in danger of losing its federal funding.

Dr. David Colvard has done some contract work at Dorothea Dix Hospital. He says the staff is as good as, if not better than, most personnel in other facilities.

In his view, the allegations paint an unfair picture of the doctors and nurses at the facility. "It looks very much that this is just paperwork bologna"

The lack of standard operating paperwork procedure has the hospital in trouble with the Federal government. But Dr. David Colvard charges that its endless paperwork, required by private insurers, Medicare and others, that is holding Dorothea Dix's staff hostage. -->

"Hiring nursing staff and paying them to spend countless hours filling out pointless forms just to make a bureaucrat happy actually detracts from patient care," Colvard says.

TheDepartment of Health and Human Serviceshas issued a letter saying in part that they have asked a state survey agency to complete a full Medicare survey of the facility, which will include procedures not covered in the allegations.

Afterward, the hospital will be required to submit a plan for correcting all cited deficiencies.

Beth Melcher, Executive Director of theNational Alliance for the Mentally Illin North Carolina, says the infractions identified at Dorothea Dix Hospital should be a wakeup call to state lawmakers.

"The demand for its services have grown and yet the funding has decreased over the same time," Melcher says. "So you have a system that is horribly underfunded. To me, it breaks my heart."

Melcher says she does not want to characterize the situation as just a paperwork problem, although she admits that is part of it.

The hospital was given until February 18 to correct the problems, but with the new review of its procedures, the staff will have more time to do so.


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