North Carolina prison officials are preparing to open a new $155 prison hospital and mental health unit at Central Prison in Raleigh, a spacious five-story building with enough beds for 336 patients.
It will replace a hot, cramped and crumbling medical wing dating to the 1960s that will be bulldozed after the new facility opens next month.
Currently, inmates needing inpatient care are often sent out to community hospitals. They must be chained to their beds and accompanied by correctional officers, leading to staff overtime and transportation costs.
The new hospital includes such state-of-the art features as a CT scanner, surgical suites and a unit for providing chemotherapy.
Department of Corrections Chief Operating Officer Jennie Lancaster said the new facility is expected to save taxpayers about $40 million a year.