Taxpayers Pay $6 Mil. For New Prison Hospital … It Sits Empty

File photo, Bart Everson, CC BY 2.0

As NC inmate needs persist, a $6 million long-term care facility sits empty

Sep 16, 2019 |

North Carolina Health News – Clanking security doors, pristine cells, wide halls and private spaces for medical visits all stand ready at the new long-term care facility at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The combined assisted-living and skilled nursing facility take up five floors and 32,930 square feet of former mental health care space, recently converted at a cost of $6 million.

One of a kind in the state corrections system, renovations on the facility ended March 12.

But it’s empty, unoccupied by the faltering older inmates and those with chronic health-care needs — the people for whom the facility is designed. With the state budget at a standoff, there’s no staff or money to run the 46-bed center.

And that means its intended population will stay in sought-after prison hospital beds or in a general population cell for more than 15 months after its completion, even if proposed funding for 2020 makes it into the final budget.

“We are looking forward to the opening, being able to provide the health care in real time,” hospital director Chad Lovett said during a recent tour. “All of this is integrated to keep the health care within these walls as much as possible.”

Officials: Not luxury care

On the tour, a visitor to the Central Prison long-term care facility saw new cells with beds in a T-formation, an immersion tub where inmates can be moved in a chair for treatment, small eating and gathering spots on each of three floors, security and administrative space on two separate floors, and showers kept five degrees warmer than the surrounding space.

“None of this is a luxury,” said Department of Public Safety spokesman John Bull. “It’s a requirement under the courts to provide the community standard of care …” Read more. 

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