Local News

First patients arrive at new mental hospital

Posted July 21, 2008 2:45 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2008 7:21 p.m. EDT

— The first patients of Central Regional Hospital arrived at the new facility, months after it was originally scheduled to open.

Brad Dean, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said that about 110 patients, classified as being acute short-term patients, were transferred Monday from John Umstead Hospital in Butner.

With the exception of one patient who tried to escape, the transition went smoothly and according to plan, Dean said.

Umstead's remaining patients, about 100 more, will be transitioned throughout the rest of the week. Adolescent patients will remain at Umstead, where state officials plan to remodel part of the facility for them, but they eventually will be moved, also.

The new $130 million hospital will replace Umstead, as well as Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh.

Opening of the facility has been delayed several times over concerns about adequate staffing and safety reviews showing conditions that could allow patients to commit suicide.

DHHS Secretary Dempsey Benton said in a letter last week to Gov. Mike Easley that the facility is ready for use and should be safer than the two older institutions.

Patients from Dix could be moved in August, although there is no target date, Dean said. Hospital staff and officials will review this week's move to see if there is anything they could have done differently.