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Interim CEO says coverage improving at state hospital

State House Bureau

June 07. 2017 9:26PM

CONCORD — The acting CEO of the state’s psychiatric hospital told Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council on Wednesday that Dartmouth-Hitchcock heath care systems is still not in full compliance with a $36 million staffing contract.

But Donald Shumway had high praise for the organization, saying the staff provided by Dartmouth-Hitchcock is “a very high quality team of psychiatrists, medical doctors and nurse practitioners.”

Shumway is a former commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There are still holes … a small number of holes,” he said, “but these are not the highest priorities, where the holes remain. I view it as a contract that is working well, but a contact that needs constant attention.”

A little more than a month ago, Sununu announced that Dartmouth-Hitchcock had been out of compliance with a $36 million contract to provide medical staff at the state psychiatric hospital, and was shorting the state two psychiatric positions since November.

One of the consequences of that discovery was the forced resignation of hospital CEO Robert MacLeod. Sununu asked Shumway, who has decades of experience in managing human services, to step in as CEO on an interim basis.

Shumway most recently retired as CEO of Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. Prior to joining Crotched Mountain in 2002, he served as commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services and led the state’s mental health services when they were considered a national model.

While acknowledging that Dartmouth-Hitchcock is still not in full compliance with the contract, he said his research in the past month has convinced him that the hospital is on the right track.

“I have followed this for three decades,” he said, “and it is my opinion that this is the strongest team we’ve ever had at New Hampshire Hospital.”

Although the staff still lacks a dedicated geriatric psychiatrist, as required by the contract, two psychiatrists now in administrative positions are certified to provide geriatric services and are doing so.

“They are in compliance in the most critical area, which is the 11 general psychiatrists that have to be there full time,” said Shumway. “With three additional hires in that area they will be able to sustain that and improve it as we go into the summer months.”

Shumway said he has spent the past month meeting with staff at all levels and on all shifts “to review each and every psychiatrist, medical doctor, nurse practitioner, their credentials and performance.”

Sununu has steadily toned down his criticism of Dartmouth-Hitchcock since revealing the contract issues in early May.

“We have had multiple discussions with the leadership group over there, and they have been very fruitful and very productive,” he said. “I feel very confident moving forward that we are going to make sure this partnership, and it is a partnership, stays positive and is working.”

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