Local News

Hospital officials urge DHHS to reconsider Dix move

Posted September 22, 2008

— Physicians at Dorothea Dix Hospital are urging state mental health care officials to "reconsider the brisk pace of merger" of the hospital with a new facility in Butner.

But Michael Lancaster, the co-director of the Division of Mental Health, said Monday that the state has no plans to delay next month's transfer of Dix patients from Raleigh to the new Central Regional Hospital.

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton announced that 170 adult patients will move to the $130 million hospital, beginning Oct. 1. The move was scheduled several months ago but was delayed because of safety and worker concerns.

In a letter dated Sept. 19, Dix officials cite a lack of a fully operational paging system, among other issues, as reasons to delay the transfer. They argue that paging system could keep doctors from reliably receiving pages, therefore "placing patients at unnecessary risk."

The letter also raises concern about the adequacy of staffing and the number of qualified personnel remaining to treat patients at Dix, which will operate as a 60-bed satellite unit after the move.

Lancaster said DHHS is taking the letter under advisement but said the concerns in it are in the process of being resolved. He said he believes the need to merge patients and staff outweighs the issues of keeping them apart.

Central Regional replaces both Dix and John Umstead Hospital in Butner. Umstead patients moved there in July.

Child and adolescent patients are expected to remain at Dix until Dec. 1, when work is completed to house them at Central.

The Legislature said Central had to meet outside safety standards before Dix patients could move.

Benton said last Thursday that the move is safe and poses fewer risks than leaving the two facilities as separate entities.


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  • TheAdmiral Sep 23, 2008

    THey are just covering up that they need to stay there longer to get more money from the feds and state to pad their wallet. It has nothing to do with the state of the art facility versus the delapitated Dorthea Dix.

  • annemarek Sep 23, 2008

    Mental patients can be very dangerous and the staff has to physically subdue them. Which way to run if you have no help? No one is going to want to work at the new hospital if there is inadequate staffing. And the staff they do have will be dead or on disability.

  • fearna Sep 23, 2008

    Safety IS an issue - the patient:staff ratio is dangerous, and because the seasoned staff can find jobs in Raleigh, many of the folks who are transferring are new to the healthcare field and don't have the knowledge and experience to address the patient issues effectively, especially in the admission and crisis units where patients are at their most vulnerable. I know this since I have been out of work for 2+ months after a patient attack that could have easily been prevented by teamwork. There is plenty of room on the DDH campus to have a hospital and public greens space and we should use our resources more effectively by moving long-term, stable patients to the new hospital. There are enough of them to keep CRH busy!! Leaving Dix open for crisis/admissions would be a great compromise.

  • dreamer Sep 23, 2008

    They should listen to the doctors. But of course, they are more interested in money that the safety of not only the patients but people who live in the area.

  • Tawny Sep 22, 2008

    Read estate moguls from Raleigh were eyeing the Dix Hill property at one time. It is a beautiful piece of property that overlooks downtown Raleigh. This is another example of legislators attempting to "legislate" everything from education, now to mental health. Dix Hospital needs to remain where it is to serve residents within central NC - just as it always has. Mental health reform in this state is a "joke", and those that have little voice in government are the ones that suffer.

  • coolwill Sep 22, 2008

    For the life of me I will never know why they built a hospital on the border of NC verses using the mega acres that is already at Dix campus. To move mental people across cities cannot be good for their recover and their families visiting. This just does not add up. Have any one seen all of that land at Dix campus?

  • PAINFREE Sep 22, 2008

    It appears to me that the people who are most familiar with the situation (the unpreparedness of the new hospital and the fact that it is not large enough to handle all of the present residents at Dix) are leery of closing Dix. Why isn't anyone listening to them? Instead of turning huge numbers of patients out without adequate supervision, why not leave the hospital open, and close areas not needed? And all the people who want to develop and pave, slash and scalp and otherwise ruin the beautiful campus should take a hike. We need to preserve the greenspace, because there is not any more being created. Someday, someone will recognize that, but will it be in time?

  • terrie Sep 22, 2008

    The only reason the new facility was built in Butner instead of at Dix was grade on the part of developers who want to build on Dix Hill. The new hospital IS occupied by patients from John Umstead. With loss of funding for Cherry and Broughton, it only makes sense to keep Dix open. There are no facilities in the new hospital for the Child and Adolescent Unit. This isn't a personnel matter. It's a patient safety matter. For most patients and there families Dix is a much easier place to get to than Central Regional. The patients currently at JUH could easily fill Central Regional.

  • nic Sep 22, 2008

    The reason people are desperate to stay at Dix is because there are not enough beds to house all of the patients from both hospitals. Many of the metally ill will be on the streets, in jails or clogging up our emergency rooms because there are not enough communtiy resources and not enough beds. Everyone keeps saying just get it done already. Apparently they don't realize that 60 patients will be left behind on an admission unit as well as a whole building of Foresic patients that have jobs in the community plus a whole building of adolescent patients that have no where to go at the new hospital. If there keeping that many patients at Dix they might as well leave them all here until all the problems with the mental health reform and with the new hospital have been fixed.

  • cocker_mom Sep 22, 2008

    The only people anxious to move are the ones that wanted this as part of "mental health care reform". While a good idea on paper- as we have seen it was mismanaged, ripe for abuse and cheating, and in the end has NOT improved the quality or accessibility of mental health care.

    HOW can we be the state seat, and not have adequate critical inpatient mental health care available? Having been through a family mental health crisis - it's TERRIBLE. It's often separate from medical critical care, shrouded in secrecy, terribly difficult to navigate, and still bears a stigma. (note this was not in NC) the emergency portion of this crisis was something out of one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

    I just don't see how we think that having one facility this far away from a large population for critical care - sends us way back in time. Officers and medical personnel will be shuttling folks in crisis - I predict bad things will happen.

    Families and citizens in crisis need local help.