05/04/06 — Sen. Basnight: Cherry Hospital a high priority

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Sen. Basnight: Cherry Hospital a high priority

New Cherry Hospital facilities — virtually replacing all the old hospital treatment units at Goldsboro — will get high priority on the agenda of Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight in the coming session.

Basnight will propose the issuance of bonds to replace the mental health hospitals at Goldsboro and Morganton.

The president pro tem held a news conference in Raleigh earlier this week. He said the two new mental hospitals, expansions of the state’s community colleges and universities and water and sewer projects would be high on his agenda.

The General Assembly convenes next week.

Sen. Basnight said replacing the hospitals at Goldsboro and Morganton would represent an investment of some $280 million.

He told reporters of his visits to the two institutions earlier this year. He said he was shocked at some of his findings. In one unit of Cherry Hospital, he found two toilets serving 32 patients.

Basnight and Sen. John Kerr met with the Cherry Hospital staff and toured facilities there in January. The president pro tem told Kerr and the hospital staff after the tour that he was greatly concerned over the inadequacy of the facilities.

At the press conference Tuesday, Basnight also mentioned the need to provide supplemental pay to enable poorer schools to attract science teachers.

Among his other concerns is legislation to restrict campaign contributions by lobbyists.

The state will begin the session with a $1.3 billion surplus.

Cherry Hospital is one of the state’s oldest mental hospitals, built initially to house black patients before the days of integration.

Many of the facilities defy efficient supervision of patients and present problems of safety for patients and staff alike.

Ample acreage is available at the present site to accommodate the new facilities envisioned to meet today’s needs.

The cost of providing those facilities will continue to escalate each year. In putting high priority on the project, Sen. Basnight is acting in the best interests of the patients and staff but also of the state’s taxpayers.

Published in Editorials on May 4, 2006 10:39 AM