Wednesday 17 Oct 2018

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The New Cherry Hospital, A New Era Of Care And Treatment

It’s a new era in North Carolina’s care and treatment of psychiatric patients.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro was held Tuesday morning. Local and state dignitaries were a part of nearly 400 people in attendance. While the event marked the official opening of the new facility, non-patient personnel have been moving in for the past several weeks. Tours of the facility have been ongoing for the past month culminating with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s tour prior to Tuesday’s ceremony. Sources say patients will begin moving in next month.

Officials say the new Cherry Hospital is the nation’s foremost state-of-the-art hospital housing 313 beds, employing more than 1000 workers and serving the acute mental health needs of more than 3-million people in the eastern region of the state.

McCrory during his remarks at the ceremony conveyed his excitement about the new Cherry Hospital and praised caregivers as heroes. McCrory said, “This is a safe and humane facility that is about helping people return to society. This building is a solution to get them back with their families and back in their communities. I thank the North Carolina legislature for budgeting $20-million for the mental health task force. It’s the caregivers that will make the difference.”

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North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer, and Facility Based Behavorial Health and Development Services Deputy Secretary Dale C. Armstrong were also in attendance.

Brajer said, “It is a privilege to watch Governor McCrory help those with mental illness, behavioral health and substance abuse problems.” Brajer added, “This new building is a tool—not for them—but for us. Twenty percent of us in attendance here today are dealing with a mental illness. Just like a physical illness we may be dealing with—the same is true with mental illness. It’s time to stop the stigma.” Brajer thanked Cherry Hospital employees for their dedication.

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Rick Brajer

Armstrong during his portion of the program brought Dr. James P. Mayo, Jr. to the podium to specially recognize him for his 30 years of service to the state as a teacher, doctor and researcher. Mayo became Clinical Director at Cherry in 2010. The hospital’s Adolescent Patient Care Unit will be named in his honor and a bronze plaque with his name engraved will be placed in the unit.

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Dale C. Armstrong

Cherry Hospital Chief Executive Officer J. Luckey Welsh, Jr. during his remarks reflected on the hospitals commitment to the people it serves. Welsh noted, “Over 2-million people suffer from mental illness.”

The new three-story facility has 9.4 acres of floor space under one roof. Approximately seven football fields can fit inside the building designed by Perkins and Will and constructed by Archer Western Contractors, LTD. Total funding for the new construction, design, medical equipment, furniture, telecommunications, information technology, equipment and other necessities totaled $138,325,814.

The 313 bed occupancy of the new Cherry Hospital will include admissions of 136 adults, 28 adolescents, 35 geriatric and 114 other related admissions. There are 12 patient care units that include 228 bedrooms with one bathroom per room, 146 private bedrooms and 82 semi-private bedrooms.

Cherry Hospital’s mission is to provide excellent, psychiatric care to individuals with the greatest need and the fewest resources. The hospital’s vision is to be trusted and respected as the best hospital in the state for treatment of severe mental illness.

The history of Cherry Hospital dates back to 1877 when the North Carolina General Assembly appointed a committee to recommend the selection of a site for a facility for African-Americans with mental illness, which would serve the entire state. On April 11, 1878, 171 acres of land were purchased. On August 1, 1880, the first patient was admitted to the then named “Asylum for the Colored Insane”. The name of the hospital changed several times throughout the years. In 1959, the name was changed to Cherry Hospital, in honor of the 61st Governor of North Carolina, Robert Gregg Cherry.

Robert Cherry
Robert Gregg Cherry

In 1965, Cherry Hospital joined other state hospitals in implementing the Civil Rights Act. The hospital began serving patients from 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. Today Cherry Hospital serves 38 counties. Cherry Hospital was the first psychiatric hospital in North Carolina to employ Peer Support Specialists, hospital interpreters and Therapeutic Program Coordinators.

It was October 1, 2010 when North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue and other state officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $138-million Cherry Hospital. At that time, the new three-story mental health facility, designed to replace the current aging Cherry Hospital, was scheduled to open in 2013.

During a special news conference in Raleigh earlier this year, State Representatives John Bell, Jimmy Dixon and State Senator Louis Pate expressed their frustration over delays that kept the facility from opening. Bell vowed the new Cherry Hospital would open by October.

Bell pointed out the fact the new Cherry Hospital had not opened was unacceptable to taxpayers and to citizens of eastern North Carolina who could benefit from provided services. Bell referred to it as a mismanagement of the property.

Copyright 2016 Curtis Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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