Local News

Hospital's problems drew new director to job

Posted April 3, 2009 6:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2009 7:25 a.m. EDT

— The new director of one of the state's troubled mental hospitals said Friday he was drawn to the job because of the problems the facility faces, not in spite of them.

"The challenge is part of the opportunity," said Philip Cook, a former psychiatric hospital administrator and behavioral health consultant appointed Thursday to head Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

The hospital made news last April after employees left a patient in a chair unattended for nearly 24 hours without food, water or medical attention before he died.

Three employees were fired and 10 others were disciplined.

Last September, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revoked Cherry's certification to receive approximately $800,000 in reimbursements for treating patients under the federal insurance programs.

Cook said his job is to restore public trust in the facility and to help it be recertified to regain federal funding.

"By and large, there is a lot of good work taking place here," Cook said. "The problems that we have been identifying and have become aware of – we are committed to working on and improving. And that will happen over time."

Staffing will be another focus for Cook, he said. In recent months, several employees have been fired after other cases of patient neglect and abuse.