Dix hospital to cut about 300 workers

Staff WriterOctober 29, 2009 

More than 300 workers at Dorothea Dix Hospital could lose their jobs early next year.

About 800 full-time staff members at the state's oldest mental hospital received a memo Wednesday informing them that 476 positions are expected to remain after the planned move of about half the facility's patient beds to a new state hospital in Butner, scheduled for 2010.

Administrators at the state Department of Health and Human Services had planned to close Dix, while continuing to operate a small unit at the Raleigh campus as an annex of Central Regional Hospital in Butner.

But a chronic statewide shortage of patient beds, a legal challenge and other issues mean Dix will remain open for the foreseeable future, though at a reduced size.

Employees wanting to stay will have to reapply for their jobs, said Jim Osberg, the institution's director. Managers will consider workers' performance and seniority to decide who gets to remain.

Those who are not offered positions to remain at Dix will be eligible to apply for new jobs at Central Regional, which is about 40 miles away.

Osberg said he did not know how many positions would be available in Butner or how many current Dix employees could be left without an option to relocate.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner contributed to this report.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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