Politics & Government

Mental hospital overseers named

State officials announced Tuesday that new administrators will oversee operations at state psychiatric hospitals and other facilities.

J. Luckey Welsh Jr., a former president and CEO of Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, is the new leader of a team at the state Department of Health and Human Services that oversees state facilities.

He will make $150,000 a year.

Lanier Cansler, DHHS secretary, said recently that he wanted to strengthen the group that manages the state's mental hospitals. Patient deaths and abuse have kept the state mental hospitals in constant trouble with the federal government for the past two years.

Threats to cut off the hospitals' federal funding are nearly routine. Two hospitals have lost their federal money since August 2007, and only one has had its money restored.

The facility team's former leader, Jim Osberg, is still with the agency, said DHHS spokeswoman Renee McCoy.

DHHS also announced that it has hired Cecelia Karas, a former mental health consultant, as a training and quality assurance director. Karas will be in charge of training hospital staff in the latest techniques for controlling mentally ill patients' behavior.

Karas will make $125,000 a year.

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