Thursday inspected the children's unit at Umstead. Spokesmen for the
state Department of Health and Human Services said they did not know
why inspectors were at the children's unit.
Also Thursday, regulators
were reviewing the recent attempted suicide of a patient in the new
Central Regional Hospital that opened in Butner last year. The opening
of the $138 million hospital was delayed repeatedly because of
construction problems and safety concerns over bathroom fixtures and
door hardware that inspectors worried suicidal patients might use to
Mark Van Sciver, a health
and human services spokesman, declined to say whether the woman who
tried to kill herself used the door hardware that hospital
administrators were warned might pose a threat. He cited concerns for
the patient's privacy.
The living area of the
new hospital built for children is vacant. Its classrooms are being
used as staff offices because the space isn't big enough to
accommodate all the children now being treated at the old Umstead
hospital and Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh.
Because of the space
crunch, the state had planned to combine the children's wards from
both old hospitals and move them into a repainted section of Umstead.
The state then was to fill the new hospital with adult patients only.
Vicki Smith, executive
director of the patient advocacy group Disability Rights North
Carolina, said the mold and asbestos found in the gym is further
illustration why the Umstead buildings are not suitable for children.
"The kids' unit is in the middle of a very old building, and parts all
around them are health and safety risks," she said.
The state closed the
building in January, a few weeks after finding a steampipe leak it
could not easily fix. Brad Deen, a health and human services
spokesman, said the state does not need to warn former patients and
state workers who used the building about potential health hazards
because the building became contaminated after it was shut down.
The testing company
collected air samples in February, after the building had been closed
off for more than a month. Deen said children did not breathe air as
moldy as the test samples indicated. The steam leak created ideal
conditions for mold to grow, said Terry Hatcher, director of the
property and construction division at the department.
Mold levels are
considered high in air with more than 1,000 spores per cubic meter,
according to the report. The gym had 20,600 spores per cubic meter,
and no room in the building had fewer than 1,000.
The new hospital, Central
Regional, has never been accredited by either federal regulators or
the private commission that affirms hospital safety. Despite repeated
inspections, it has failed to win federal accreditation because of
deficiencies in patient care and cases of patient abuse and neglect.