DHHS

Ten community health centers in New Hampshire are splitting over $835,000 in federal grants to improve health care delivery. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the money last week after reviewing the performance of all 1,400 federally qualified health centers in the United States. Eight of the ten centers in New Hampshire receiving awards were also named “Health Center Quality Leaders” for ranking in the top 30th percent of centers nationwide. 

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The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday that temporary rules are in place to expand the state’s Medicaid to Schools Program. 

New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services wants to improve its child welfare system by integrating mental health, substance abuse, and preventive services to better support youth and families.

Courtroom One Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The juvenile justice system in New Hampshire is built around the idea of rehabilitation. Instead of going to jail, young people who commit crimes gain access to services like counseling and substance abuse treatment to address the underlying causes of their behavior.

But a blind spot in the state’s juvenile justice system can keep some kids from getting the help they need.

Eric Molina via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4wWBoY

The Department of Health and Human Services is cancelling a funding opportunity for needle exchange programs because the grants would appear to violate state law.

Needle exchanges were legalized in the state last summer, but the new statute said groups that provide clean syringes to injection drug users must be “self-funded” to operate in New Hampshire.

NHPR

Our series on mental health in New Hampshire concludes with a look at the role of the state psychiatric hospital in responding to crises, and at what happens once a patient leaves, including what's available in terms of treatment, jobs, housing, and community support. 

Department of Human Health and Services

The state Division of Children, Youth, and Families, or DCYF, has been criticized for its handling of child abuse cases.

The division came under scrutiny following the deaths of two young girls whose cases were under review.

Now, legislative action is being taken to try and resolve those issues.

Christine Tappan was confirmed as the associate commissioner of Health and Human Services last week. Her hire is part of a reorganization of DCYF. She’ll oversee the agency where she actually worked before, from 2008 to 2012.

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Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers said he made multiple attempts throughout 2016 to clarify whether the federal government approved of New Hampshire’s use of provider donations to fund its current Medicaid expansion plan — but the agency never gave him a definitive "yes" or "no" answer last year.

Hong Seung Hui via Flickr CC

Operators of child care centers are expressing concern over proposed rule changes in how they are licensed by the state.

The Department of Health and Human Services wants to tighten some regulations for childcare workers, including requiring additional professional development and a $50 dollar card that would verify a worker has passed a background check.

Johanna Booth-Miner runs the Live and Learn Early Learning Center in Lee. She says she wants high standards for childcare workers, but she says these regulations will add costs to an already expensive business.

The Executive Council approved an $82,000 contract with a Florida-based company to review alleged child abuse and neglect cases that weren’t fully vetted before being closed last year, but only after peppering top DHHS officials with questions about the company's track record in other states, the cost of the contract and the scope of the review. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Addressing the state’s oversight committee monitoring the Division of Children, Youth and Families, Gov. Chris Sununu voiced support for the creation of a new Office of the Child Advocate and other reforms in response to systemic problems at the child services agency.

Sununu told the commission his team has been “aggressive” about visiting regional DCYF offices and caseworkers to better understand what problems need to be fixed.

Allegra Boverman

A major political controversy broke last week when state officials accused Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital of failing to live up to the terms of a contract to run the state psychiatric hospital.

Fatal Flaws: DCYF Looks To Reform

Apr 17, 2017
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A recent Concord Monitor series examines the many problems at New Hampshire's Division of Children, Youth and Families, including child abuse cases where at least eight children died in the last half-decade. The drug crisis, high staff turnover, limited funding, and restrictive policies all present challenges as the state looks to reform. 


U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Viramontes, Wikimedia Commons

Adults with developmental disabilities in New Hampshire have long struggled to find adequate support once they leave the school system. This legislative season, lawmakers will vote on a bill that would give a 2% raise to workers who care for these Granite Staters - with the aim of boosting the workforce serving this population.  

Thomas Fearon

Governor Maggie Hassan says a cyber-security consultant will evaluate the Department of Health and Human Services’ computer network following a data breach that compromised personal information for as many as 15,000 DHHS clients.

Thomas Fearon

 

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services says personal information for as many as 15,000 clients has been breached.

 

Names, addresses, social security numbers and Medicaid ID numbers were stolen, with some information posted on social media sites.

 

The agency says a patient at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Concord accessed the information in October, 2015 through a computer in the facility’s library.

 

An outside review of New Hampshire’s child protective services agency, the Division of Children Youth and Families, identified a number of red flags in how abuse and neglect reports are handled.

Outside reviewers found that many cases reported to the agency were not brought forward for further action, even when the agency’s own assessments found that kids were at high risk of harm.

THOMAS FEARON

The Executive Council is slated to vote Wednesday on a contract between the state hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital. The vote comes as an independent investigation gets underway about a former patient's suicide. 

The state is behind schedule in expanding the types of community-based mental health services that keep people out of hospitals and other institutions. The timeline for developing those services was laid out in a $30 million class action lawsuit settlement in 2014 that alleged New Hampshire was violating the civil rights of people with mental illness. We check in on statewide efforts to improve the state's mental health system, what data tells us about the situation, and goals for implementation going forward.


Casey McDermott, NHPR

By the time Sanctuary ATC opened its doors in Plymouth — around 11 a.m. Saturday morning — about a dozen people were already huddled around on the porch or hanging out in the parking lot outside, hoping to get in.

The state gave the medical marijuana dispensary the green light to open Friday afternoon. And by the end of its first day, the dispensary ended up served 45 people in all, according to its director.

Jonathan Cohen via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/78H5Sy

New Hampshire's child protection division is proposing adding a second shift and a new on-call system as a first step toward being able to respond to allegations 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Meyers Confirmed as DHHS Commissioner

Jan 28, 2016

The Executive Council voted Wednesday to confirm Jeffrey Meyers as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meyers has been the interim commissioner since early January, when Commissioner Nick Toumpas stepped down. Meyers has held other positions in state government, including as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for DHHS, as well as Chief Legal Counsel to former Governor John Lynch and legal counsel to the state Senate.

Meyers has been appointed to a four-year term as commissioner. 

Flickr/Grape Crush, Indica-4

Three out of four of New Hampshire's medical marijuana dispensaries are now approved to start cultivating cannabis. 

Temescal Wellness just got approval from the Department of Health and Human Services to start growing marijuana. The Manchester company will operate two dispensaries, one in Dover and another in Lebanon. Their grow site will be in Manchester.

NHPR

When Nick Toumpas steps down from his role as commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services at the end of this week, he’ll leave behind a job leading the largest state agency – and arguably its most complex – at a time when New Hampshire’s population is aging, its health needs are becoming increasingly complicated and budgets are stretched thin.

NHPR

We're sitting down with outgoing Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas. As head of the state's largest agency for eight eventful years, Toumpas dealt with several enormous challenges, from Medicaid expansion to medical marijuana to the opioid epidemic. We'll get his take on his tenure as he prepares to leave office, and ask what advice he might give his successor.

A federal judge has ruled against a former state employee who claimed she was fired from the Department of Health and Human Services for trying to breast-feed her child during the workday.

The Concord Monitor reports a judge ruled last month that Katherine Frederick was provided breaks and a private place to express milk, as required by law. The judge called the Department's policy "stingy," but noted it didn't violate any laws by refusing to let her breastfeed either in the lactation room or a short distance away.

Awaiting N.H.'s Medical Marijuana Program

Sep 24, 2015
Brett Levin / Flickr/CC

The therapeutic use of cannabis has been legal  for about two years now, but the process of establishing cultivation centers, dispensaries, and ID cards is still underway. While many praise the state for its careful approach, others suffering from conditions they hope to treat with the drug are becoming impatient. 

GUESTS:

DHHS

At a meeting Monday morning at the Sununu Youth Center in Manchester, a bipartisan group of N.H. lawmakers discussed several options of how the facility can save money due to its low enrollment. The facility currently houses 44 people but it can hold 144.

Senate and House members applauded the juvenile detention center for operating at a third of its capacity. but said it needs to better utilize its funding in order to serve more youth.

The group did; however, rule out closing the facility.

New Hampshire Senate
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  

Senate budget writers are likely to hear pleas for a restoration of funds for people with developmental disabilities, programs for the elderly and substance abuse treatment during an upcoming budget hearing.

DavidWilson1949 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Senate Finance Committee will consider funding for the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

The Senate will take up the House budget, which ends funding for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, suspends ServiceLink - which connects elderly and disabled residents with funding and services - and delays a 10-bed mental health crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital by one year.

While the House budget increased the Health and Human Services budget $110 million over the previous year, it fell $200 million short of Governor Hassan’s proposed budget.

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