Local News

DHHS to ask that Dix restraining order be lifted

Posted September 23, 2009

— The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will ask a judge next month to lift a temporary restraining order that prohibits the state from moving patients to the state's newest mental hospital.

Secretary Lanier Cansler said Wednesday that he would like to begin moving 100 patients from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh to Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7, and if Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour lifts the order, Cansler said, it will take about 30 to 45 days to begin moving patients. The move would take several months to complete. About 120 patients would remain at Dix.

The $130 million Central Regional Hospital opened last July, yet nearly half the beds remain empty.

Advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina filed a complaint last September, citing more than a dozen safety concerns and conditions the state failed to meet for the move, as outlined under state law.

Since then, DHHS and Disability Rights have been working together about the concerns.

Last month, Vicki Smith, the group's executive director, said she believes the hospital is significantly safer now than when it opened last year.

Once the move is complete, it will save the state an estimated $800,000 a month, Cansler has said.

Eventually, Central Regional will replace both Dorothea Dix and John Umstead Hospital, which is also in Butner.

Dorothea Dix, now a subsidiary campus of Central Regional, will stay open for at least three more years as an overflow unit and to house children and adolescents in need of long-term care.

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