Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that it would move most operations from Dorothea Dix Hospital to other facilities by the end of the year to save money.
State lawmakers didn't include any money for Dix operations in the 2010-11 budget, DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said, so the department had to find ways to cut $28 million in operating costs.
Shifting services from Dix to Central Regional Hospital in Butner and Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro would save about $15 million while maintaining needed capacity for inpatient mental health treatment, Cansler said.
Sixty adult inpatient beds, 11 long-term beds, 54 forensic beds, 12 clinical research beds and pre-trial evaluation outpatient and inpatient services will be moved to Central Regional. Thirty long-term beds will be moved to Cherry Hospital.
After the shifts, 24 forensic beds and a child outpatient clinic will still be at Dix. The hospital, which has treated people with mental illness since 1856, had 183 patients as of Tuesday.
"This is purely something that was meant to happen when they built the new hospital (in Butner). It hasn't because we wanted to make sure we had the right patient care," Cansler said. "We're at a time now where we have to make the tough decisions and scale the hospital back."
More than 800 full-time and temporary workers are employed at Dix. Most of those who handle the services being moved to Central Regional will be reassigned to the Butner facility, Cansler said. DHHS will help employees who don't want to move or whose jobs will be eliminated because they are redundant at Central Regional to find other positions within the department, he said.
The state has debated for several years whether to close Dix altogether – Raleigh officials have offered to buy 306 acres of the site for a Central Park-type attraction – but it remains unclear how long the facility will remain open.
More than 1,300 DHHS employees will continue to work on the Dix campus after the moves.
DHHS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said department officials are still looking for places to cut the remaining $13 million in unfunded Dix operating costs.