Lawmakers Want More Answers Before Mental Hospital

State health officials would like to open a new state psychiatric hospital by March, but lawmakers want more answers before closing two other hospitals.

Wake County lawmakers at the meeting said they want more assurances that the Department of Health and Human Services has assembled enough outpatient services and private treatment options before the transition to the new hospital is complete.

In 2003, the General Assembly approved construction of a new mental hospital designed to serve central North Carolina patients. The hospital would replace Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh and John Umstead Hospital in Butner.

The new hospital, which would also be in Butner, will have more than 500 beds. That's considered enough for the number of patients that on average have been treated daily at Dix and Umstead during the past fiscal year.