Local News

State agrees to postpone Dix move

Posted October 2, 2008 11:04 a.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2008 5:35 p.m. EDT

— The state Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that it has agreed to postpone the transfer of patients from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh to a new facility in Butner.

In a statement, the agency said it has agreed with patient advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) to indefinitely postpone a hearing on the matter scheduled for Oct. 6 and "will remain in a holding pattern" regarding its plans.

About 170 adult patients were scheduled to move, beginning Oct. 1, from the state psychiatric hospital in Raleigh to the new $130 million Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

Citing concerns about remaining safety issues at Central Regional and claiming the state has failed to meet conditions for the move as outlined under state law, DRNC last week filed for a restraining order to delay the move.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour granted the request, saying the potential harm to patients outweighs the state's desire to move them.

In its statement Thursday, DHHS said it will wait for a report from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services before it decides how to proceed with the move. CMS oversees the federal insurance programs and reimburses health care agencies for treating patients covered under them.

Both Dix and Central Regional are in jeopardy of losing their certifications, partly because of how Central Regional was getting reimbursed.

CMS regulators made an unannounced visit to Central Regional on Sept. 24 to investigate complaints. A report on their findings have not yet been released, and DHHS officials have refused to comment on the inspection.

Eventually, Central Regional will replace both Dix and John Umstead Hospital, which is also in Butner. Umstead patients moved to the facility in July.

For Dix patients to move, state law requires assurances from two accrediting agencies. One, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, won't say Central Regional complies with its standards until patients move in, however.