The Bulletin Board

DHHS seeking public input on reimagined Hampstead Hospital

By: - July 21, 2022 12:01 pm

The Department of Health and Human Services has not decided whether the state should run the expanded Hampstead Hospital and Residential Treatment Facility alone or partner with a contractor. The high, medium, and low designations reflect the state’s involvement under each scenario. (Screenshot)

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking input from the public and mental health providers and advocates as it transforms Hampstead Hospital from a 16-bed acute care facility for children into an expansive residential and treatment hospital for kids and young adults.

“Our goal is to be able to serve every child here in New Hampshire, no matter what their unique needs are,” said Rebecca Ross, Director of the Bureau for Children’s Behavioral Health, in a Wednesday Zoom presentation for mental health providers and advocates. 

The state purchased the hospital with $15.1 million in federal money in June, after contracting with it since 2019 to stabilize children in crisis so they could return home. It is one of several investments the state has made during the pandemic to address increased mental illness and a spike in the number of children waiting for inpatient care. At one point in the pandemic, as many as 50 children were awaiting a bed. On Wednesday, the most recent count, there were nine.

The department envisions that the new Hampstead Hospital and Residential Treatment Facility would expand care beyond short-term crisis stabilization treatment for children in a few ways.

There would be more beds, and they’d be available to people ages 5 to 25. The facility would also provide a spectrum of care with different levels of intensity with a goal of no longer sending children out of state because their behavioral health needs can’t be met here. Children and young adults in the child welfare and juvenile justice system would be eligible, and the hospital would play a bigger role in helping patients transition back into their community. 

The department has contracted with Wellpath Recovery Solutions to maintain existing services for the next two years. It is seeking input from the community and those with lived mental health experience as it writes a contract reflecting the expanded services.

Undecided is whether the state would run the facility alone, share that role with a third-party, or look to a provider to handle both clinical and administrative care. The department is seeking input on the risks and benefits of each option as well as all aspects of the future facility.

The state’s preliminary plan is available on its website (dhhs.nh.gov) under “Doing Business with DHHS.” Comments will be accepted until noon Aug. 24 and should be emailed to Brooke Provost at [email protected] and to [email protected]

The department emphasized that comments can address one or a few aspects of the plan or the whole plan: “Your response can be brief (a few sentences) or longer (a few paragraphs),” reads its webpage. “The purpose is to obtain feedback from all community members.”

 

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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.

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