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Critics Argue Decision To Close Dorothea Dix Affecting Health Care

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Dorothea Dix Hospital
RALEIGH, N.C. — Dorothea Dix Hospital will not close until 2007, but some employees have already found new jobs. Hospital leaders are worried their trained staff will leave before the doors even close.

Josie Douglas has a son in the deaf services unit of Dorothea Dix Hospital. She said since the announcement was made to move the facility from Raleigh to Butner, care in the unit has gone downhill.

"The staff is finding jobs in other locations. They know the hospital is going to close, so they have bills to pay and are finding other jobs while they can," she said.

Hospital leaders said they have not seen many employees leave yet, but as 2007 draws closer, they anticipate more people will go. Officials are worried that employees may not want to drive the extra 42 miles to Butner or they may not have a job at the new hospital.

Hospital director Dr. Terry Stelle said officials may consider an incentive package to keep staff on board until the very end. Without staff, he said patients and the hospital will suffer.

"Not only would we not be able to care for them, but we wouldn't be able to care for them in a way acceptable to Medicare and Medicaid. A mass exodus is what we want to try and avoid," he said.

Stelle said accreditation could also be at stake. So now, hospital officials are coming up with a survey to find out if employees plan to leave or if they would like to have a job at the new hospital. They are also doing an analysis of how far staffers live from the new hospital.

Some employees do not want to give up their jobs, but they are not willing to make the long commute either. Hope Turlington is leading a charge to get lawmakers to change their minds and keep the hospital in Wake County.

"We have resources here. We are the main hub for our state," she said.

Dorothea Dix employees are planning a downtown rally May 10, but many lawmakers doubt the decision will be reversed.


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