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Federal inspector probing suicide attempt at mental hospital

Posted March 5, 2009

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— Patient concerns at two campuses of the state's newest mental health hospital in Butner have federal inspectors back investigating.

A state Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Thursday that an inspector from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid arrived at Central Regional Hospital Wednesday after hospital administrators reported a suicide attempt, which occurred Feb. 26.

CMS inspectors also arrived Thursday at the hospital's John Umstead campus to respond to a complaint about poor conditions in the child and adolescent unit.

About 40 child mental patients are being treated at the facility, which served as an Army barracks and hospital during World War II.Advocates want the children to be treated at Central Hospital's main campus.

An environmental report released Thursday confirms concerns of patient advocates about mold and mildew in a children's gymnasium at Umstead. DHHS says the samples were taken in early February, a month after it closed the gym because of a December pipe leak that created ideal conditions for mold to grow.

The Central Regional facility houses a children's unit but those beds remain empty, hospital officials say, because it is not big enough to accommodate all the Umstead patients.

CMS is the U.S. agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid programs. Central Regional gets approximately $1.2 million in reimbursements for treating patients on the federal insurance programs.

Since opening in July, Central Regional has been in jeopardy of losing funding several times.

Most recently, inspectors found dangerous conditions, including unreported patient abuse and that the facility had not implemented procedures to protect patients from falls. Health officials said last months that inspectors indicated they will recommend continued federal funding.

Safety at Central Regional has long been a concern of patient advocates, and as a result, its opening was delayed multiple times. State health officials have insisted that the facility is safe.

Central Regional was built to house patients from the former John Umstead Hospital in Butner and Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh.

In September, however, a judge granted a temporary restraining order delaying the move of 170 adult patients from Dix, saying the likelihood of harm to patients outweighs the state's need to move patients.

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  • durham4sale Mar 5, 2009

    becbec has it right. Lets face it...Dix people don't want that facility to lose out...so you cry foul about the other facility.

    Having personal experience with a family member at John Umstead I can speak highly of the staff that I interacted with - from Social Service worker, doctors and nursing staff to the higher-ups. The Geropsychiatry unit there has my many thanks and support. They did a wonderful job providing care and assistance to my father. I fought to keep him there because of the level of care and piece of mind I had knowing he was being treated properly. Several of the staff attended his visitation/funeral. Thank you to the staff.

    And yes, this stuff does happen, will happen and is going to happen. Be it a state facility or a private nursing home facility.

    I would love hear where these patient advocates came from..who got them involved? You just have to wonder.

  • For-Better-Or-Worse Mar 5, 2009

    Ok, this is a facility that houses patients with mental illness. Of course patients with mental illness may try to harm themselves. The facility can not prevent all suicide attempts, what is important is whether the patient was able to succeed.

  • bowlingbrat1203 Mar 5, 2009

    I agree with everyone about this. This is getting rediculously nit picky! If this hospital was as bad as the media and the state makes it out to be then it would have been shut down a long time ago! I work in the health care profession and I can tell you, it is not possible to watch everyone 24/7. No hospital is going to pay for that kind of care. Patients do have to be left alone for a few minutes except if they have a sitter, and let's be honest, like I said before, what facility is going to pay for that kind of care? None that I know of. Let's give this hospital a break and give them time to fix the problem instead of condeming them every second of every day!

  • aintbackingdwn Mar 5, 2009

    Why do you feel the need to prevent it? We need to save taxpayer money and watching them 24/7 ain't getting it.

  • Angel67 Mar 5, 2009

    attempted suicide, these people need to get a grip, it is not humanly possible for them to watch ea patient 24/7. this is nit picking if you ask me....

  • dko Mar 5, 2009

    You know this is ridiculous Even when something happens at Dix in Raleigh it comes up Central Regional. There are some problems a CRH but they are addressing every single issue. If the news would give them a break it would ALL be addressed but the people are so busy answering junk from the media they cannot do there job. If policy was followed in the attempted suicide why is it necessary for the media to address it? Central is a excellent facility. When something good happens nothing is reported AND there is a lot of good happening at this mental hospital ,no one cares lets just jump on the few issues that are isolated and beat the hospital up some more.Give us a break check it all out . No I do not work for the state, But I know people who work and they are caring loving people who do there job well. Before you condemn , try walking in there shoes. Now in the mental health field you are guilty untill proven innocent.

  • keeprightexcepttopass Mar 5, 2009

    Ya know, as a person who works in the Mental Health profession I am starting to think the Central Regional is being nit-picked a little too much at this point. Not that I am defending it's shortcomings, but geez people! At every single mental health facility in the world someone has attempted suicide. This isn't something worthy of making news. If so, then everyday there would be several articles related to people trying to kill themselves while in a psychiatric facility. I think Central Regional has been deemed the official scapegoat for all the failures regarding mental health reform. Give'em a break already! (and no, I am not employed by the state)