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Central Regional, again, in jeopardy of losing federal funding

Meanwhile, three new complaints of patient abuse have surfaced at the state psychiatric hospital, Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

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Central Regional Hospital in Butner
RALEIGH, N.C. — The state's troubled mental health hospital in Butner could lose federal funding by Feb. 20 if it does not meet standards from the agency that oversees the government's medical insurance programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed Central Regional Hospital earlier this week that it has until Feb. 14 to submit a written plan of correction that will bring the hospital into compliance.

The report stems from a visit last month by inspectors on behalf of CMS, in which they found, in part, that the hospital's fall prevention policy – designed to prevent unintentional falls by patients – was not being followed the same way throughout.

Central Regional's director, Mike Hennike, received verbal notification last week during an exit interview with inspectors.

Meanwhile, the hospital faces three new complaints involving patient abuse and has the governor and Department of Health and Human Services secretary reiterating a zero-tolerance policy against abuse and neglect.

DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said in a statement that the first complaint involved a health care technician at Central Regional's Raleigh campus, formerly Dorothea Dix Hospital, in which an employee allegedly assaulted a patient.

The incident was not reported to hospital administrators until CMS inspectors received an anonymous complaint, he said.

Two other incidents involved a juvenile patient at the hospital's Butner campus.

In the first, a health care technician struck a patient. The second incident involved the same patient being assaulted by other patients.

The first was reported; the second was not, Cansler said.

"This is unacceptable," Cansler said.

One employee has been fired and a criminal investigation is under way.

Earlier this week, Cansler instituted a zero-tolerance policy for all state-operated facilities involving the abuse and neglect or patients and the failure to report it.

Gov. Bev Perdue also issued a statement late Friday reiterating the policy.

"I’ve directed Secretary Cansler to take swift and aggressive disciplinary action against those responsible for these incidents," Perdue said. "And I directed him to pursue criminal investigations, as well. The failure to protect our mental health patients must stop."

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