Local News

Nurses, Administrators At Odds at Dorothea Dix Hospital

Posted October 8, 2000

— Nurses atDorothea Dixsay the Raleigh mental hospital is in trouble. Hospital administrators disagree.

Nurses held a rally Monday outside the hospital. They say staffing shortages and too many patients creates a potentially dangerous work environment. Hospital administrators say that is not the case.

"We are in an emergency mode. We have been cutting back and we have not been getting the staffing that we require to staff these units," says nurse union president Beverly Moriarty.

The hospital flunked a state inspection in February. The inspectors cited a string of problems: not enough nurses, nurses who did not know the patients and patients who were not properly cared for.

Consultants recommended closing Dix. The hospital overhauled its administration and scrambled to correct the problems.

"We did have a staffing shortage, we believe we've now turned the corner. I think any citizen coming to Dix is going to get good care," says hospital director Terry Stelle.

Nurses say they fear the state is moving to close the hospital, and that is why more nurses are not being hired.

One plan, which the governor has endorsed, is to build a new hospital on the same property.

Federal inspectors are at Dorothea Dix this week. If they find the same problems they did earlier this year, Dix could lose more than $40 million in federal funding.

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