The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has received Executive Council approval on two new contracts that will dramatically expand acute inpatient mental health bed capacity in the State.
The agreement with SolutionHealth will support the construction of a new facility in Southern New Hampshire with 120 beds: 72 for adults, 24 for older individuals with geropsychiatric issues, and 24 for children and adolescents; care provided by the facility will prioritize the needs of involuntary patients while serving voluntary patients as well, those with co-occurring issues, and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The agreement with Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital will support the construction of the first five beds in the Lebanon region that is designed to serve adult patients involuntary admitted for care, a population that is among the most clinically and socially complex.
“It is wonderful to see this mental health hospital partnership finally move forward,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “These additional beds will go a long way to helping vulnerable citizens struggling with mental health.”
“In 2019, the Department set an ambitious course to fundamentally rebuild NH’s behavioral health system,” said DHHS Interim Commissioner Lori Weaver. “We envision a system where every resident has access to the full continuum of behavioral health supports and services they need to flourish. Together with our partners, we are building a more comprehensive, high-value, integrated system. As a result, we are making significant progress on the 10-Year Mental Health Plan and remain committed to full implementation.
The project’s funding today aligns with our vision to invest in community-based preventive services while maintaining the flexibility and intensity to meet each person where they are on their behavioral health journey. This requires making adequate inpatient, residential, and other specialized treatment available to those with more intensive needs, and ensuring supportive transitions that provide long-term stability that helps avoid the need for such acute and specialty care in the future.
In addition to increasing bed capacity, DHHS and the State’s community mental health centers (CMHCs) continue to prioritize community-based investments, including the establishment of NH Rapid Response, which includes a centralized access point and mobile crisis response, as well transitional housing, supportive housing, and peer-run step-up/step-down programs.
DHHS recently announced that it had received a federal grant to expand access to high-quality, evidence-based, and trauma-informed behavioral health services. Additional examples of our progress in rebuilding the mental health system include the acquisition and census expansions at Hampstead Hospital, pediatric psychiatric strike teams, increased Designated Receiving Facility (DRF) rates, and the Federal Institution of Mental Disease Waiver. This week, DHHS also began renovations for NH’s first-ever Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. These efforts are ensuring DHHS, CMHCs and community providers are able to meet people’s mental health needs and right-size the State’s inpatient bed needs.