Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is announcing the release of its plan to help reduce the wait time for patients in local hospital emergency rooms for inpatient psychiatric care. Budget reductions, the closure of local hospital inpatient psychiatric units and since 2009 the loss of 60 beds at New Hampshire Hospital (NHH) has led to a waiting list for patients seeking inpatient psychiatric care. Many patients are now waiting several days in a hospital emergency room for a bed to become available at New Hampshire Hospital.
“This is of critical concern to me personally, and DHHS as an organization,” said Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “It is unacceptable for someone experiencing a Psychiatric crisis to have to wait this long for critical inpatient care - for both the individual as well as their concerned family members. As we develop our budget request for the next two years, we will be seeking additional funding to continue to accelerate progress on our 10-year Olmstead Plan, but also fund new and innovative programs that are designed to support individuals so that they can live in their communities with the supports that they need. In the meantime we have some immediate steps we are taking to reduce the waitlist.”
DHHS’ immediate plan of action includes:
- NHH tracking all individuals awaiting a bed at NHH on a daily basis. These are reviewed and triaged by the Physician in Charge at NHH.
- Finalize a plan to utilize psychiatry staff at NHH to provide additional consultative services to local ER physicians on the management of behavioral health crises.
- Finalize a plan for Commissioner approval to temporarily reopen 12 beds at NHH that currently are closed.
- Within the next 10 days, finalize implementation of Project RED (Re-engineered Discharges) to provide better community follow-up after discharge in order to reduce readmissions, which will also increase the availability of beds at NHH.
- Expand peer-run crisis respite beds.
DHHS’s budget submission contains requests for additional funding to continue building community capacity, including:
- Establishing additional inpatient capacity available on a statewide basis to allow individuals to receive care on a local basis.
- Expanding peer run services, including peer crisis beds in the community, to serve an additional 400 adults with severe mental illness annually, through a peer run model.
- Continuing to expand the number of Assertive Community Treatment Teams by adding an additional 7 teams, bringing the total to 17 teams for the State of NH.
- Expanding residential options for consumers, including a doubling of the size of the Housing Bridge Subsidy program from 110 to 210 by the end of FY 15, and adding an additional 48 supervised residential beds in the community.
“Let me be clear, we cannot do this on our own,” stated Toumpas. “This is a very complex subject and involves the coordination of many partners. We will continue to reach out to our Community Mental Health Centers, consumer and family members, the NH state Planning Council, NAMI-NH, the law-enforcement community and local hospitals to develop and most importantly advocate for the supports and services that are needed today and in the future here in New Hampshire.”