Local Politics

Dix patients transferred as state debates next step

Posted December 20, 2010 8:39 p.m. EST

— The state's oldest mental hospital transferred some of its last patients Monday, effectively closing the facility in an effort to save the state an estimated $17 million.

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services decided to shut down most operations at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh as the state faces a projected $3.7 billion deficit.

Patients were moved to Central Regional Hospital in Butner and Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

Patients in the minimum-security forensics unit, which houses criminals with mental illnesses who have been ordered by a judge to undergo treatment, remain at the hospital.

Gov. Bev Perdue announced her desire to consolidate all forensics patients at Dix and hire a private company to manage the unit last week. The DHHS has already issued a notice requesting information from interested private vendors.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker envisions turning the 306-acre property into a regional park, modeled after New York's Central Park. He said Perdue's plan to keep the forensics unit at Dix would not be a major hurdle to building a large park on the campus.