Local News

Ex-DHHS official to lead Central Regional

Posted December 31, 2008 11:03 a.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2009 11:22 a.m. EST

— A retired Department of Health and Human Services official will oversee the new state mental hospital in Butner.

Mike Hennike, who was chief of State Operated Services before retiring in 2007, has been serving as associate director of Central Regional for the past six months, following the resignation of hospital director Dr. Patsy Christian.

Dr. Michael Lancaster, co-director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, has been interim director of Central Regional in recent months.

The $130 million hospital, which has been designed to replace Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh and John Umstead Hospital in Butner, has been plagued by staffing and safety issues that forced DHHS officials to repeatedly delay its opening.

Patients still haven't moved from Dorothea Dix after an advocacy group obtained a court order to block the move, citing concerns about safety issues at Central Regional.

Federal inspectors also had said Central Regional failed to provide care in a safe environment and to prevent patient abuse and neglect. The findings jeopardized the hospital's ability to collect reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid for treating patients, but the state corrected the deficiencies.