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Dozens protest to keep Dorothea Dix open

Posted October 28, 2010
Updated October 29, 2010

— Dozens of people rallied across the street from the state legislative building on Thursday in an effort to try to keep the doors of Dorothea Dix Hospital open.

The protest, organized by the Wake County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was also aimed at raising awareness about the need for additional state hospital bed and services for people with mental illness.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that it was closing the state’s oldest psychiatric hospital to help cut approximately $28 million in operating costs that weren’t allocated in the 2010-11 state budget.

Most patients will be moved to other facilities by Dec. 23, and the hospital could close its doors as early as next fall, according to a timeline from DHHS.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that during the first six months of 2010, state psychiatric patients – many deemed to be a threat to themselves and others – waited waited an average of 2.6 days to be admitted, leaving them to be treated instead at local hospitals.

“The consequences of closing state hospital bed and not providing adequate funding for community services is already playing out in emergency rooms in hospitals across the state,” the group said in a news release. “Apparently, our current government leaders do not grasp the impact on our communities by failing to provide hospital beds for seriously mentally ill individuals.”

Earlier this month, it also released a report showing that since 2001, the number of prison and jail inmates with mental illnesses has risen while the number of patient beds in state mental hospitals has declined.

Thursday’s rally included several community leaders, including Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Tony Gurley, commissioners Joe Bryan and Lindy Brown and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

15 Comments

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  • e2brtus Oct 29, 3:05 p.m.

    i was expecting this group to be "pro" closing.wow,i'm surprised at the responses advocating the state keep Dix open. THANKYOU for your comments expressing your concern about the sad state of mental health services in NC.again, i thank you.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Oct 29, 12:50 p.m.

    I really don't know, but considering the condition of the building, is it really the best place to take care of patients? They built Central Regional to be able to take care of patients better and more efficiently, right? Renovating the building for offices is likely a lot cheaper than renovating up to the standard of what a modern mental hospital should be.

    I'm not for or against closing it. I am for making sure we serve these patients before we have to treat them in prison. For me it's just a question of how best to do that. Do the local hospitals want mental health beds?

  • chrishill2393 Oct 29, 12:37 p.m.

    do you consider alzheimer or dimentia patients as "crazies" skyygene??? These people have a PHYSICAL problem, and they need treated!! They should keep it open!!

  • cooks003 Oct 29, 12:30 p.m.

    It is a sad day when we as a community still treat the sick, that's right the sick, by throwing them in Jail or putting them on the streets because our decision makers are not in tune with what is becoming a nationwide epidemic – Mental Illness. Amazing, the best solution that they came up with to save tax money is to treat those in crisis that are sick by closing the door. God please help us!

  • skyygene Oct 29, 12:13 p.m.

    Shut it down already. Whoever had the bright idea of keeping the crazies so close to downtown anyway? Should have been done years ago.

  • Whatever Geez Oct 29, 12:01 p.m.

    need to keep it open b/c this world is full of crazy people that need help....good grief.

  • unclegrits Oct 29, 11:12 a.m.

    I am willing to pay higher taxes to keep it open.

  • nic Oct 29, 10:59 a.m.

    Dozens, how about around 150 protested yesterday. From the Sheriff to the patients served by Dix. So many understand that closing Dix will not save money. the costs to transport will increase. The lenghtn of stays at ED's will increase. The homeless population will increase. The Prison admission will increase. How is it possible not to have a mental health facility in the second largest county in the state? They have money to convert Dix into offices and put brand new elevators in the building on campus, but not enough to keep it running. Political nonsense. Remember Politiicans all of those protesting are members of the community who have family, friends, church members and co-workers who vote

  • mulecitybabe Oct 29, 10:25 a.m.

    The guy that repeatedly raped, tortured and bit that girl last week had an appointment with his VA psychiatrist the day after he was arrested. Would things have been different if the appointment had been the day before? I don't know, but that's basically what's going on in the community. For the mentally ill, everything happens a day late and a dollar short.

    And the state isn't saving money. It's a little cheaper to treat patients at Dix than across Western Blvd in Central Prison.

  • IAMAmerican Oct 29, 10:16 a.m.

    Dix needs to stay open, I don't blame the protestors............we need Dix and I

    know several people that it's helped

    tremendously!!!!! This is NOT where we

    need to cut taxes!!!!

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