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DHHS Presents New Plan for Care At Central Regional Hospital

Release Date: April 8, 2009
Contact: Renee McCoy, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler today unveiled a new plan for patient care at Central Regional Hospital. The plan would fully utilize the new Butner facility as well as continue limited patient care on the Dorothea Dix campus in Raleigh. The plan represents just one part of Gov. Bev Perdue’s call for a thorough re-examination of the statewide mental health delivery system, utilizing available resources and the best management structure.

A cornerstone of the plan is the finalization of an agreement between DHHS and Wake County to partner in continuing to maintain a 60-bed psychiatric care overflow unit on the Dix Campus for the next three years.

 “Overall, the plan answers the needs of our patients and community, providing a safe environment and the type of surroundings needed for quality care and treatment,” Sec. Cansler said. (download 460 KB photo of Cansler) “I believe this approach, combined with our continuing efforts to ensure quality and safety in our facilities, will help address the issues of a court-ordered injunction currently in place, and allow us to move forward in meeting our goals and responsibilities to our patients.”

Under the plan, Central Regional Hospital, which opened its doors at the Butner campus in July 2008, will be fully utilized — offering patients advanced care in a facility specifically designed to provide state-of-the-art care.

Children & Adolescents Unit

“After careful consideration of all aspects of the adolescents program, I have determined it is in the best interests of children, their families and the State to continue to maintain a portion of the adolescents program on the Raleigh campus of Dix, as well as to utilize available space at the new Central Regional facility in Butner,” Cansler said.

Under the plan, the short-term children and adolescents program — currently housed partially in the former John Umstead Hospital and partially on the Dix campus — will be consolidated and moved into the space specifically designed for children’s care within the new CRH facility. This will allow the full use of all available space within the new facility by expanding the children’s section to accommodate a maximum capacity of 72 short-term children and adolescent patients.

“The new facility at CRH provides a safe, clean environment specifically designed for treatment and education of our children,” Cansler said. Short-term crisis admissions range from 5 to 10 days, while long-term admissions average 6 to 9 months.

The long-term children’s program at the Dorothea Dix campus will continue and will be expanded to serve those children currently served on the Butner campus. “The youth programs at Dix have been a proven success, and we will keep that aspect of the program running while expanding it to house 25 young people by consolidating the programs currently on the two campuses,” Cansler said. “Safe and suitable facilities are our primary concern. This plan puts all of the children we serve in living facilities that are most suitable and conducive to the quality of care we want for our children.”

The recently renovated space in the old Butner facility, previously planned for providing care for these children, will be used as administrative office space and potentially as space for enhanced staff training programs.

Forensic Unit

While a section of the new hospital facility in Butner was specifically designed for the care and treatment of forensic patients — those under court order, some pending trial, others deemed incompetent to stand trial — currently continue to be served on the Dix campus. The forensic wing at the new facility does not provide sufficient space to house the total forensic population. The new DHHS plan will divide the care and treatment between the two campuses. High-risk forensic patients will be transferred for care and treatment provided at the new Butner facility, while low-risk patients will continue to be served at the Dix campus facility.0

Community Beds

The Secretary continues efforts to move forward with funding to establish additional mental health beds in local communities as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to increase local community capacity for mental health treatment.

“We have always believed that providing local, short-term treatment for mental health is the cornerstone of the national direction in improved services for citizens. The successful establishment of 110 additional short-term crisis beds across North Carolina, in addition to the 150 established in the current year, will strengthen local services by treating people in their own communities where they are closer and have access to family, friends and community supports,” Cansler said.

The move toward community based programs has support because it frees up state hospitals from providing short-term beds, allowing them to concentrate on a primary mission of providing long-term care to more difficult and chronic patients who need the services.

“Gov. Perdue’s call for additional new beds for mental health programs moves our state ahead in answering concerns expressed to our new administration by those in the mental health community and from lawmakers,” said Cansler, who has met with state, local and community leaders on the issue since his appointment as Secretary of DHHS in January.

Partnership with UNC-CH

In addition to the treatment unit, the 25-bed long-term adolescent unit, and the minimum forensic unit, the plan will provide for the continuation of a 12-bed research unit on the Dix campus in cooperation with the UNC-CH School of Medicine psychiatric training program.


In recent weeks Cansler has begun to appoint an experienced team of administrators to assume responsibility at key facilities and to oversee specific programs and divisions with an emphasis on administration, treatment and quality control. “The newly assembled administrative team brings a focus on quality assurance, increased staffing and improved hiring practices and training. Our goal is to ensure patients and their families can rest assured that loved ones trusted in the care of our state facilities will be treated with respect and receive the attention and treatment they deserve” Cansler said.



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