Local News

Dix Patient: Move to Butner Will Be 'Major Disaster'

Posted December 24, 2007

— Some patients from Dorthea Dix Hospital say that plans to move them to a new state mental facility in Butner are going too quickly.

Construction on the $120-million Central Regional Hospital will be complete by mid January. Officials plan to close Dix in Raleigh and John Umstead Hospital in Butner and move their patients to Central by the end of February.

Sammie Young, 38, said he was nominated as a spokesman by fellow Dix patients who have serious concerns about the upcoming move.

"It's going to be a disaster, a major disaster of mental health in North Carolina," Young said.

Young has lived at Dix for five years, not for mental health reasons like most patients, but due to his physical needs. He was shot 10 years ago, leaving him paralyzed below the neck and needing a ventilator to breath.

"It's a nice place to be," Young said and praised Dix's "nice people."

Young said patients are concerned about abuse accusations and threats to accredidation that other state mental hospitals are facing. Patients worry about the staff training and safety hazards at the new facility.

"Despite these challenges that we're facing, in general, our hospitals provide outstanding care," said Dr. Jim Osberg, who oversees state-run mental health services for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Osberg cited the services that the state will be able to offer mental health patients once Central Regional Hospital opens.

"The reason we think it's so important and of great value to patients to get into the new hospital is it is such a wonderful facility," he said. "It does have such good amenities that we can't meet today in existing hospitals."

Larger, new facilities are not the long-term answer for mental health patients, John Tote, with the Mental Health Associaition of North Carolina, said. Tote said he believes more attention should be focused on community-based care.

"We've really got to take a look at that not only in dollars and cents but in the human cost, as well," he said.

Young said all the patients want is for the state to slow down and not rush this transition.

"Butner, I don't think is ready to open," Young said.


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  • dryftyng Dec 26, 2007

    This story and many of the comments show the ignorance and prejudice that exists toward the mentally ill...
    "Well, I'm certainly glad they asked the opinion of a "Dix Patient" (according to the title anyway) hehe"
    Being mentally ill doesn't mean one lacks intelligence.
    Officials calling this a new state of the art facility fail to mention that many patients, including children and teens will be housed in old, inadequate, unsafe buildings. The push to move in February is strictly a face saving move with no regard for patients or staff.
    Why not do some real investigative reporting on the poor facilities, lack of finance and substandard facility and care that will only get worse after the move?
    Does WRAL care or is this story just not as interesting as the newest hot dining spot or athletes getting arrested.

  • lizard Dec 26, 2007

    Mental health issues probably arise from liberalism run amock. The more pych hospitals one creates the more that is necessary. Pyschology is one of the only fields of the medical profession that creates its own customers. Usually from prescription drugs given willy-nilly.

  • liberalconservative Dec 25, 2007

    Mental health care in NC is a train wreck we have seen coming for a long time. That closing Dix will be a disaster is not news to anyone. What would be news is if anyone actually did something about it.

  • Evil one Dec 25, 2007

    "all too often the decision makers are far removed from the reality found uniqely at the bedside" -enolive 2002

  • amypsychrn Dec 25, 2007

    Young could go to Special Care in Wilson. It would be more appropriate for his care if he has to be in a state facility. However if he is not mentally ill, why isn't he being kept at home, in a group home or some other type of rehab facility? Him being at Dix seems more like "dumping" than anything else.

  • DrunkSober Dec 25, 2007

    Who moved my cheese?
    ====Your cheese was moved to Butner days ago.

  • Bumble Bee Dec 25, 2007

    Who moved my cheese?

  • Evil one Dec 25, 2007

    Young has lived at Dix for five years, not for mental health reasons like most patients, but due to his physical needs. He was shot 10 years ago, leaving him paralyzed below the neck and needing a ventilator to breath.

    I think we have uncovered part of the problem, how may more of these type patients are there. How many psych patients could have used his space over the past 5 years.

  • amypsychrn Dec 25, 2007


    Much of the so called Mental Health Reform was enacted under Reagan.

  • catch22 Dec 25, 2007

    I would like to become the leader of the crazies sort of like david koresh.