UMSTEAD HOSPITAL:State officials say the state mental hospital in Butner is no longer at immediate risk of losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding. In a statement released last month, state officials said that federal inspectors recently spent three days at John Umstead Hospital as a follow-up to a visit in March that uncovered serious problems. They said the inspectors gave the hospital until March 1 to address remaining issues. Investigators working on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had threatened to decertify the hospital for failure to control violence. The hospital collected more than $21 million in Medicaid and Medicare payments last year and had a $79.8 million budget.
Investigators have put pressure on all four of the state's mental hospitals to improve or risk losing federal money. Broughton Hospital in Morganton lost its federal payments in August and is on the verge of losing its national accreditation. Broughton's director was demoted this week. Dorothea Dix Hospital is in trouble for failing to fill out paperwork required to transfer patients from its admissions unit to other hospitals. It has until March to correct problems before its federal money is cut off. Debra G. Dihoff, executive director of the advocacy group NAMI North Carolina, has asked DHHS Secretary Dempsey Benton to convene a team of experts, including people from outside the state, to help improve the hospitals. An external review team "would do much to restore public confidence in our state operated psychiatric hospitals," Dihoff wrote. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/21/07; Lynn Bonner, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/22/07).