The plan was to open in March, then May now July isn’t looking  promising. Recent reports are problematic, the hospital is not attracting qualified staff.

State mental health administrators are accelerating plans to open a psychiatric hospital in Butner despite internal projections showing severe shortages of qualified staff.

 With patients due to arrive at Central Regional Hospital in about three weeks, 63 nursing positions have yet to be filled — a vacancy rate of 21 percent.

There is a 36 percent vacancy rate for medical doctors and a 38 percent of positions for psychologists are empty. The vacancy rate for psychiatrists is more than 14 percent.

With so many key positions vacant, many rank-and-file employees fear a situation that won’t be safe for staff or patients.

Moreover, 16 safety concerns were recently noted during an inspection by administrators on May 13. Some of the issues involved;

hundreds of door handles and bathroom handrails that suicidal patients could use to anchor nooses made from bedsheets or clothing.

Required evacuation and fire plans have yet to be developed, and a state safety inspector noted design flaws that could allow patients to enter unsecured areas or escape to the woods.

A second internal checklist of problems notes that lights in a medical unit used to call a nurse were installed above the ceiling where they cannot be seen. Some of the hospital’s signature floor-to-ceiling windows have glass that is not shatter-proof.

The hospital was moving forward with plans to start moving patients on June 13 with the target opening on July 1. Some Dix employees want to delay the hospital opening by 1 year. With gas prices approaching $4.00 a gallon I don’t blame them I wouldn’t want to make the commute from Raleigh to Butner either.

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