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N.H. Lawmakers Hoping to Ease Waitlist for Inpatient Mental Health Care

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
New Hampshire Hospital in Concord

A proposal to reduce the long waiting times for people needing inpatient mental health services  is being heard Tuesday by a key state senate committee.  

On average 45 people a day in New Hampshire are waiting for residential psychiatric care at the state’s hospital in Concord. In the meantime, these patients have to wait in overcrowded emergency rooms for days, even weeks.  

Senator Jeb Bradley is looking to expand the state’s treatment capacity – calling New Hampshire’s lack of mental health services “unacceptable.”

Gov. Chris Sununu agrees.

“That’s the really scary point here when you understand that these are people with families – they just want services, they just want help for their loved ones,” Sununu said Friday while touring the emergency room at Concord Hospital. 

Bradley’s proposal would add 20 new beds for those with severe mental illness as well as 40 new transitional beds and an additional mobile crisis unit. The state's Department of Health and Human Services will be in charge of the application process with strict deadlines on when these beds should be made available.

The measure also creates a special child advocate in order to help address problems at the state's child protection services agency.

How much these new services will cost has not yet been determined.

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