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With New State Funding in Place, Hospitals Add Mental Health Beds

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Parkland Medical Center in Derry have announced they are adding a combined 8 new inpatient psychiatric beds.

The new beds come amid a years-long statewide shortage of mental health treatment options that, among other impacts, has forced many mental health patients to languish in emergency rooms for days or even weeks.

Amidst an ongoing lawsuit over that issue, lawmakers last year passed additional funding for mental health beds in the state.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Parkland Medical Center, both owned by the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America, are the first to take the state up on that new funding.

The new inpatient beds also come roughly a month after the latest report from the expert reviewer for the New Hampshire Community Mental Health Agreement. That agreement, born out of a separate lawsuit, requires the state to provide more community-based mental health services to avoid unnecessarily institutionalizing mental health patients. According to the expert reviewer, the state remains in non-compliance with the agreement, five years after it took effect.

According to data compiled by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as of the end of December, there were at least 15 people in emergency rooms waiting for admission to inpatient psychiatric care at New Hampshire Hospital.

This story has been updated to provide additional context.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.
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