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Study: Community housing key to mental health crisis

State House Bureau

December 22. 2017 8:56PM

CONCORD — An outside study released on Friday says the key to solving the backlog of mental health patients being boarded in hospital emergency rooms is not more beds at New Hampshire Hospital, but more beds in the community for people who are awaiting discharge from the state psychiatric facility.

The evaluation was conducted by Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), as called for in legislation passed in the last session and signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The research institute reviewed more than 50 reports and interviewed 55 stakeholders to determine why the state has failed for years to address the large number of mental health patients waiting in hospital emergency departments for in-patient psychiatric care.

The report recommends increasing access to community-based services for individuals awaiting discharge from New Hampshire Hospital to make more room for those who need to be there.

“The perception is that extended wait times for behavioral health services in hospital emergency departments are due to there being too few inpatient beds at New Hampshire Hospital,” said Sununu. “Importantly, this report shows that we can take steps to increase availability of these inpatient services by expanding community interventions for those ready to leave New Hampshire Hospital. In doing so, we can better meet the behavioral health needs of patients who need inpatient services as well as those who are ready to transition back into the community.”

As a result of the study, Sununu and DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey A. Meyers, with support from legislative leadership, are redirecting funds set aside for inpatient psychiatric beds to housing services.

“The evaluation confirms what the department has suspected, that a lack of community-based services is prohibiting the timely discharge of patients from New Hampshire Hospital,” said Meyers.

The newly appointed CEO at New Hampshire Hospital, Lori Shibinette, recently told the Union Leader that too much attention has been paid to what she called “the front door” of the hospital, with patients awaiting admission, and not enough to “the back door,” for patients awaiting discharge.

The full report can be read at

Public Safety Health General News Concord

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