The Bulletin Board

Contracts aim to address shortage of mental health crisis beds in state

By: - August 2, 2021 2:19 pm
State House dome

The House voted on several bills related to reproductive health and access to abortion. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

State health officials have long said the shortage of mental health crisis beds at the state hospital is a “back door” problem, meaning there are too few places to discharge patients who are ready to leave but still need some care. That backup would be reduced under tentative agreements the state Department of Health and Human Services has reached with seven long-term care providers.

The contracts, worth $1.74 million, will go before the Executive Council at its meeting Wednesday. Using federal pandemic aid, the department has agreed to pay each facility $45,000 per bed for one year, as well as $289 per day for patients not eligible for Medicaid. There are a total of 27 beds throughout the state available for elderly patients currently at the state hospital or the state’s Glencliff Home for the Elderly, according to the contracts.

Transferring these patients to other facilities will open up beds for people in crisis waiting in emergency rooms. Monday there were seven adults and 11 children waiting in emergency rooms and one adult waiting in a correctional facility, according to the department’s website

Genesis HealthCare, which has 28 hospitals in New Hampshire, will provide 12 beds, eight in Hampton and one each in Lancaster, Milford, Laconia, and Rochester. Peak Health Care will provide four beds, three at its Keene site and one in Portsmouth. Greenbrier HealthCare in Nashua, Riverside Rest Home in Dover, and As Life Goes On in Hollis will each provide three. Morrison Hospital Association in Whitefield and the Riverglen House in Littleton will each provide one. 

According to the contracts, the department asked long-term care providers if they could take on elderly patients after the state Supreme Court ruled it was violating due process rights of people held for days or weeks in emergency rooms without a timely court hearings. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.