Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: December 17, 2007

  Contact: Debbie Crane

Leadership Changes Announced at Broughton Hospital

RALEIGH – North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton today announced a leadership change at Broughton Hospital in Morganton.  Dr. Art Robarge, who has more than 30 years of experience as an executive in the public mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services system, will serve as interim director.

“Art is the right person at a crucial time for Broughton,” said Benton, noting that Robarge previously served as Broughton director in 1986-89 at a time when the hospital faced numerous challenges. (Print-quality photo of Dempsey Benton, 900 KB JPG)

In addition, staff internist Dr. Basalat Khan has been named interim medical director.

Since September, DHHS has focused on Broughton.  A review of the hospital led by MH/DD/SAS Chief of Clinical Policy Dr. Michael Lancaster, resulted in a reorganization of clinical staff and additional staff training. His review continues.

In August, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decertified Broughton, so it cannot bill for Medicare or Medicaid patients.  Last week the Joint Commission, an independent not-for-profit organization that accredits healthcare organizations, conducted an unannounced survey. Although the Commission surveyors have not issued a written report, they have verbally told Broughton staff that they will recommend that the Commission issue a preliminary denial of accreditation. If Commission headquarters agrees, the preliminary denial would give the hospital 45 days from the date of issuance to come into compliance or risk losing reimbursement from private insurance companies. 

The Commission surveyors made 29 recommendations for improvement.  According to the surveyors, 17 or more recommendations result in a preliminary denial. Findings include:

  • Development of individualized treatment plans was inadequate.
  • There was insufficient information to show that staff consistently does a daily physical exam to verify continued need for restraints. 
  • There was insufficient information that staff had attempted nonphysical techniques prior to using manual restraint or seclusion.
  • Infection control plans were inadequate, and there was inadequate risk analysis of infection control data. 
  • More than 50 percent of the discharge summaries that documented patient assessment, care, treatment and services were late.
  • Legal guardianship of a patient was not always determined.
  • There was inadequate information to show that a patient had given informed consent for medication with psychotropic drugs.
  • There was insufficient documentation for fire alarm testing, fire department connection tests had not been completed, and hospital plans did not show that the local fire department was called when a fire alarm sounded.

“Broughton Hospital has a long, honorable history of service to western North Carolina,” said Benton. “We are committed to fixing Broughton’s problems and making sure that it is providing high quality service. Bringing Art Robarge into the director’s office will help us accomplish this goal. Resolution of all of these issues is vital to hospital consumers and their families.”

Most recently, Robarge directed the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center, also located in Morganton. His other experience includes stints as deputy and acting director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

Broughton director Seth Hunt will move to the Riddle Center as a special assistant to the director. Riddle Center Deputy Director Barb Schneider will serve as interim director at the Center while Robarge works at Broughton.

Broughton is the largest of the state’s four public psychiatric hospitals, serving the 37 westernmost counties. It serves approximately 4,000 patients annually, employs approximately 1,200 and has a $77 million annual operating budget.



Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane