Officials Hiring Firm To Evaluate Cherry Hospital, Adding More Security

By: Bill Wilson
By: Bill Wilson

There are new developments in the controversy over Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced it's hiring an independent hospital management firm to evaluate the mental facility in Goldsboro.

Security is also going to be increased on the campus.

State officials have already disciplined staff and closed one of the hospital's wards following the death of a patient who was left unattended for 22 hours. The 50-year-old patient was left in a chair and choked on medication.

Officials hope to have an independent outside hospital management firm contracted in two weeks to evaluate the operational and management structure of the facility.

"The serious and ongoing nature of issues at Cherry Hospital has convinced me that an outside evaluation by an independent hospital management group is necessary in order to identify problems and to recommend immediate steps for corrections and improvements," DHHS Secretary Dempsey Benton said.

The contracted firm will also have on-site management responsibility for the hospital while conducting the evaluation.

"We want a top-to-bottom evaluation of every aspect of the hospital including staffing, organizational structure, the competence and effectiveness of managers and supervisors at all levels, and all other components of hospital management and operational activities," said Leza Wainwright, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

The Secretary also directed the Division to implement increased security at Cherry Hospital. Wainwright said that the Division is in talks with local law enforcement agencies to negotiate the hiring of off-duty officers as contracted employees for a higher level of security presence on the campus.

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Two Cherry Hospital employees have been arrested for assaulting a patients at the state mental health hospital.

Arrest warrants show the employees were charged Friday with misdemeanor assault/battery on a handicapped person.

William Johnson and Taniko Upton, both of Goldsboro are accused of striking the patient around the abdomen area, knocking the patient to the floor and then kicking and punching the patient in the head and side.

The warrants say the attack happened last Monday and both employees were released on a $5,000 secured bond.

A North Carolina Health & Human Services spokesman says the two employees will be fired from the jobs.

The arrest comes less than a week after the state closed an adult admissions ward at Cherry where a dying man was ignored by nursing staff.

Steven Sabock, 50, died at the mental hospital on April 29, after sitting in a chair for more than 22 hours without food or help using the bathroom. Hospital staff members were captured by security video playing cards and watching television in the room where Sabock sat.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ann Location: durham on Nov 19, 2008 at 08:24 PM
    If staff don't like taking care of patients then they should get the hell out of that profession instead of mistreating them. If you are unhappy and don't like the patient population or facility or management, you have a choice. Don't complain about requesting more security. Why don't you leave? Instead of putting up with patient neglect? Who gave you or any other staff the right to leave a human being who cannot care for himself in a chair for 22 hours? If that's how you want someone to treat your mother, sister, son...keep practicing that way, that is how we're precepting our newer scary.
  • by Sarah Location: Fayetteville/Creswell, NC on Aug 29, 2008 at 04:01 AM
    Well, this evaluation is a good thing and the beginning to change. But sad thing is that it takes a bad event for change to take place, this is like the probation office problems in parts of carolina, where that unc girl got killed. it took her getting killed before they found that alot of people on probation were not even being viewed and the officers were not doing their jobs. sad.
  • by Tod Location: 7 springs on Aug 28, 2008 at 03:54 PM
    More tax payer money probably wasted , but hopefully they will help. We ( staff) have asked for more security ( the cops seldom come in the buildings, and seldom help with altercations- course that may be what their job description calls for)We have asked for more Rns and complained about legitimate safety concerns only to be ignored or else labeled as trouble makers, but now the truth is coming out and they see we werent making this up. Lets all hope that this new team is able to make the place more efficient, safer and a better place to be for patients and a safe place to earn a living
  • by Anonymous on Aug 27, 2008 at 09:53 AM
    You say that all the patients in Cherry are crazy, who gave you the right to judge anyone. A lot of these patients have never been judged by a court of law. They are there because someone said they thought (only a thought, no proof) they were a threat to themselves or others, never given their day in a court of law, like the 2 accused of assaulting the patient will be. A lot of the patients are found guilty and imprisoned in Cherry and never see a judge or lawyer, and never have a chance to face their accuser. It does not take proof to land someone in Cherry, just someone thinking something about you. Once that label has been put on you, NO ONE will listen because you have already been found guilty without the benefit of a judge, lawyer or jury. Hope the 2 employees accused get a fair trail on their day in court.
  • by Not Surprised Location: Wayne Co on Aug 26, 2008 at 06:54 PM
    A patient is DEAD due to neglect and another beaten up by those who are supposed to care for him. The staff's feelings are trivial in comparison. Did I mention a person was DEAD? No matter how bad it is, health care workers cannot resort to neglect and punching the patients. Would we allow our children to be neglected or punched by those hired to care for them?!?! No, and these patients, like children, cannot care for themselves. And of couse the patients hurl all sorts of accusations-- it is a mental hospital. If they weren't crazy, they wouldn't be there. I'd say the staff needs to learn to deal with it or find new jobs.
  • by Kat Location: Goldsboro on Aug 26, 2008 at 06:46 PM
    Being forced to take medication is solely because a Doctor has ordered it because the patient has proven to need it. That is different then being beaten by a caregiver. I'm by no means up here to argue with you or anyone else. And I sure as heck am not the Judge or District Attorney. All I am saying is let the COURT decide their fate. Neither of us were there and the truth will prevail. Just dont pass judgement on these men like that. I have worked in a Mental health setting. I also know what it is like inside the Correctional part too 9 years strong. So dont get it twisted I know alot of innocent people are imprisioned. I know one of these guys and this man will give anyone the shirt off his back. He knows what it is like to have family placed inside of a place like that. I am just as surprised as alot of you seeing his face there. HE enjoys his job works anytime he is called upon.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 26, 2008 at 06:03 PM
    I bet the patients, harmed or not that are imprissioned at Cherry WITHOUT the benifit of ever being judged guilty in a court of law would love to have right.
  • by Kay Location: Kinston on Aug 26, 2008 at 05:05 PM
    Innocent until proven Guilty!!!!!!
  • by Tod Location: 7 springs on Aug 26, 2008 at 03:09 PM
    The courts should decide guilt or innocence, not us. I do not know them, but I do know that patients routinely attack other patients and staff. I have been attacked with knife, steel pole., hammer , pens pencils broken glass, chairs and of course kicked, bitten spit on etc, often in defense of another patient or staff.If a patient says " I am the devil" cherry says " you are sick and not thinking clearly" if the same patient says " nurse x punched me 22 times and set me on fire" even in the absence of any evidence to that effect the staff member has to endure a demeaning embarassing investigation, but I have known pts. to say the nurse manager hit them and of course no such investigation. Most staff do the best they can try not to get hurt or hurt anyone, most care about the pts. and lets face it we all need to work. I know it is alot worse than it has been in the past and management has not been responsive to legitimate complaints. One Rn for 25 patients = STILL not safe
  • by Anonymous on Aug 26, 2008 at 02:30 PM
    Yea and that is what many of the people who get committed to Cherry Hospital thought. Innocent until proven guilty. Do you know that they never see a judge or any other court official and are judged guilty and imprissioned. They have no say in their treatment if they refuse to take medicine it is forced on them. Now tell me more about how just the law is.

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