A needed refuge

June 3, 2010 

The Department of Health and Human Services has decided to close Dorothea Dix Hospital's Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility this month. This coincides with legislature's decision to stop funding the entire hospital after July. Legislators, behind closed doors, have chosen to terminate Dix without any debate. This is not the first time they have tried to close Dix secretly or illegally since 2003.

The mental health reforms of the Easley administration stated that Dix was to be closed only after the community-based services were funded and in place. These programs never materialized. What has changed to allow this closure plan to be rammed through the legislature without following lawful policies and procedures? Nothing, but power and greed are prevailing, as usual.

Our state should demand that Dix remain open, continuing to provide hospital beds for those who cannot be placed anywhere else in North Carolina community hospitals. In particular, most community hospitals cannot accept patients who may be violent or who have a history of past violent behaviors (not criminals, just violent outburst). Where will these patients go if the state continues to close beds that once served this population?

Steve Church

Willow Spring

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