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Central Regional may lose federal billing privilege this month

Posted December 2, 2008
Updated December 12, 2008

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— The state's new psychiatric hospital in Butner is in immediate jeopardy of losing its certification to bill the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid services, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

Central Regional Hospital came under fire for questionable practices earlier this year, partly because of its delayed merger with Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh.

The federal reports cited a number of reasons why the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed Central Regional in immediate jeopardy, including the staff's failure to provide care in a safe environment, failure to prevent patient abuse and failure to prevent patient neglect.

CMS conducted an investigation from Nov. 17-21 at the Central Regional and Dorothea Dix campuses. Some of the physical issues cited were burned-out light bulbs and fire-protection system defects at Dorothea Dix, and a locked exterior door in an unoccupied portion of Central Regional.

In addition, an inappropriate restraint of a patient was noted during the investigation. The hospital took immediate action to address the patient-care issues, including disciplinary action against the employees involved in that incident, said Dr. Michael Lancaster, co-director of the state Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

Lancaster said the physical problems at Central Regional were fixed the day they were noted. However, he said physical problems at Dorothea Dix are still being addressed.

Central Regional had also been using a Medicare and Medicaid provider number for Dorothea Dix, which is a violation of conditions for participating in the programs.

Central Regional was intended to combine the operations from John Umstead Hospital in Butner and Dorothea Dix, but Dix patients are still waiting to move, partly because of ongoing safety issues. Umstead patients moved into the $130 million facility in July, Lancaster said.

The hospital has been notified that it must correct the problems by Dec. 14 or face the loss of its ability to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. CMS officials will later return to the facilities for an unannounced visit to determine if the problems were truly corrected.

The loss of  federal certification could be a huge blow to the Department of Health and Human Services. In September, Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro lost its federal funding after a patient died after choking on medication and being left sitting in a chair unsupervised for nearly 24 hours. That is costing the state roughly $800,000 a month.

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  • Newshound Dec 3, 2008

    EZ, you may have a point there. the hospital plans were to merge with dix and every dix employee was offered a job with a transit bus to help them with any commute costs. these are well trained people that would be at central hospital right now. instead they are forced to hire nurses who are used to regular hospital and not used to managing unwilling and very dangerous at times patients on a regular basis.(yes i know it happens in a regular hospital but not with as much frequency)

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Dec 3, 2008

    Sounds to me like the Central Regional problems would not have happened if Dix had been closed, come to think of it, none of these would. Broken stuff at Dix, no body would be there. Claim number used by CR, if Dix was closed couldn't the number be transfered? Locked outer doors in unoccupied parts of CR, if they were full they'd be fully staffed and using all the sreas, no need to try to close off sections to make it manageable. The patient restraint is trickier. Was that because they were understaffed? Would they be well staffed if Dix transferred over. At least some of the more experienced Dix staff would have been there.

  • Adelinthe Dec 3, 2008

    Wonderful! Just flipping wonderful!!!

    And wasn't this state of the art facility suppose to be the be all and end all!?!

    Praying for anyone who needs mental help in NC, cause they sure won't get much here.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • littlegramma Dec 2, 2008

    Easley seems to use the same few people to "save" different State agencies, only to continue to see mismanagement, fraud, and waste. Hooker-Buel-Odom was a nobody, married to the big guy at UNC and knew the right rears to kiss. I can't believe she has any medical, let alone mental health, experience or training. (if so, it was never mentioned) She and Easley should both be sued and made to fork over their hard-earned, ha, money to correct the mess they created. Of course, they must keep their fingers out of this and some real mental health professionals from somewhere not here to scrap everything and start over. Starting with fixing up and keeping Dix open forever!

  • Rolling Along Dec 2, 2008

    That's two...think someone would learn?

  • ccs1920 Dec 2, 2008

    Does anyone know if Gov. Easley even goes to his office any more? It's hard to believe what he has allowed to happen during the last two years.

  • asjdiw Dec 2, 2008

    Agreed the system needs fixing. Agreed those without a voice need our help. The decline in service started with privatization. Our Gov and Hooker-O's fault. Research what she did for Ohio's mentally ill and you will see what I mean. Privatization of care for people without resources will always fail because the greedy will not profit from it and as a result they (the greedy) will cut corners. Let the system get back to where it was before our Gov tired to "fix it", and it will become the example to the other states it used to be.

  • See Chart Dec 2, 2008

    This is another example of how "uncool"
    mental disease is treated ,like a stepchild
    of"real" medicine not everywhere, but here.

    The first in line to protest this type
    of health care arrogance should
    be the Medical Doctor's who of all
    people should know that Mental health care
    is as important as cancer care. To the commentor "wllmbraskey" above I say that "you don't care" till you or a loved starts a crying episode and depression that nothing we can do would stop. Then people like you run to the shrink.

  • alphabaker Dec 2, 2008

    privatize the whole operation......it is obvious that the state cannot do a good job.....maybe a business could do it....get rid of those that are impossible to fire and bring in people who are happy to be hired and will perform.....privatize...the gov't role is not necessarily to run it itself just to make sure that it gets done...

  • djofraleigh Dec 2, 2008

    The state should have fired the last director, the one who led the system into this mess. I'd not object to the State giving over running the hospital to private contractors. Just fire everyone, the good and the bad, and get someone who can run a hospital, or ship out sick people to other states.

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