Health

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR

  

A bill to add 77 new positions at the Department for Children, Youth and Families received unanimous approval from a committee of House lawmakers Tuesday.

 

The vote comes a day after a legislative Advisory Board for DCYF put its support behind the bill.

 

Department of Health and Human Services

New Hampshire health officials are warning that a recent outbreak of hepatitis A in the state is accelerating.

The Department of Health and Human Services first announced the outbreak in February, when 13 people had been infected since last November.

Now, DHHS says that number has jumped to 79, including one person who has died. The average number of cases over an entire year in New Hampshire is seven.

Courtesy Catholic Medical Center

Catholic Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in New Hampshire, has announced plans for a major expansion of its Manchester facilities.

CMC announced Tuesday it wants to add 220,000 square feet and increase its overall capacity from 266 to 330 beds.

CMC spokesperson Lauren Collins-Cline says the plan is driven by increasing demand and that on most days the hospital operates at or near capacity.

“The house is full as we like to say. We've been essentially at capacity most days for quite some time.”

Department of Human Health and Services

The New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families advisory board is putting its weight behind a proposal to add dozens of new positions at the agency.

High caseloads have long plagued the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. Right now the average caseworker at DCYF is juggling 45 cases at once, while the nationally recommended average is 12.

As state lawmakers and the governor debate the state budget, a handful of proposals have been put forward to address the staffing shortage.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Lawmakers in the New Hampshire House heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would roll back some elements of a controversial new Medicaid work requirement.

The new work requirement, set to fully kick in this summer, will require some people who get their health insurance through expanded Medicaid to complete 100 hours of qualifying activities each month or risk losing that coverage.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Case workers from the New Hampshire Division for Children Youth and Families went before lawmakers Tuesday to ask for additional staff to keep up with a growing number of child abuse reports.

 

Caseworkers at DCYF, the state agency that investigates allegations of child abuse, currently juggle an average of around 45 cases each. The nationally recommended level is 12 cases.

A new database released Tuesday offers a detailed look at the health of aging adults in New Hampshire.

The report, funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, provides town-level data on 166 different health indicators for adults over 60 in New Hampshire.

DHMC

A new art exhibit opening April 1st at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center focuses on the faces of people living with mental illness.

The exhibit, called The 99 Faces Project, features life-size portraits of 33 people living with bipolar disorder, 33 people living with schizophrenia, and 33 people who love and support them.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock arts program director Marianne Barthel says the artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell wanted to challenge assumptions about what mental illness looks like.

Dan Tuohy

The future of New Hampshire's Medicaid work requirement may be in doubt following a federal court decision that struck down similar work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In a ruling released Wednesday afternoon, a judge in the federal District Court of Washington D.C. called the decision by the Trump administration to allow the work requirements to go forward in those states “arbitrary and capricious.” 

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The state Office of Child Advocate has announced it is currently reviewing how the Department for Children Youth and Families handles cases of infants born exposed to drugs.

The Office of the Child Advocate says it opened the review in December of last year after it received concerns about how DCYF was handling the cases. In two cases in 2018 infants, died after DCYF closed assessments for neglect as unfounded.

Statewide, the state Child Advocate says there were 466 children involved in DCYF cases where there were indications that the child was born exposed to drugs.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Right now, around 50,000 people in New Hampshire get their health insurance through expanded Medicaid. As a creation of the Affordable Care Act, the program is designed to cover people who make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.

Beginning later this year, for some of those 50,000 people, there is a new string attached to that health insurance: a requirement they work at least 100 hours each month.

Jason Moon / NHPR

Earlier this month, a group of police officers, firefighters, and paramedics became the first in New Hampshire to complete an intensive course on how to react to people in mental health crisis. It brought together people with firsthand experience from both sides of that interaction.

Steve Smithe via Flickr

Multiple news agencies are reporting that drug company Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, is considering filing for bankruptcy. That could affect lawsuits against the drug maker here in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate today unanimously approved a plan to spend more than $10 million to address a shortage of mental health beds in New Hampshire.

The money would pay for a number of efforts including renovations at existing hospitals to make room for inpatient psychiatric care, a new mobile mental health crisis unit, and new transitional housing for people who are released from inpatient psychiatric care.

NHPR Staff

The state senate yesterday unanimously passed two bills aimed at boosting mental health services and protecting vulnerable children.

The votes came on the same day Governor Chris Sununu was outlining his budget which looks to tackle some of the same issues.

One bill, passed Thursday, would add 77 positions to the Department for Children, Youth, and Families over the next two years. That's 15 more positions than Sununu called for in his speech.

PEXELS

New Hampshire's shortage of workers not only affects the state's overall economic growth, but it's also limiting access to health care services.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Bob MacLeod, the CEO of Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth, about how he's struggling to find enough primary care physicians to keep up with the demand.

This is a partial transcript from the interview. To hear the whole conversation, click on the audio above.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As part of NHPR's Crossroad: The N.H. Opioid Reporting Project, The Exchange went on the road on February 7, 2019 to the Nashua Public Library for a live discussion on how the city is taking a multi-pronged approach to tackle the opioid crisis. 

This discussion was recorded at the Nashua Public Library on February 7th, and an edited version of the conversation airs on NHPR on Thursday, February 14th at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.

The full conversation is available below. You can find the edited conversation here

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

A proposal to transfer jurisdiction of the state's only secure psychiatric unit to the Department of Health and Human Services went before lawmakers today.

For decades New Hampshire's secure psychiatric unit, or SPU, has been at the state prison. That means some patients who need secure treatment, but have committed no crime, have to get help behind prison walls.

New data shows a widespread shortage in health care workers across New Hampshire.

The data, released by the public health advocacy group New Futures, shows that across the state's 10 community mental health centers there are more than 200 open positions. That's an increase in vacancies of more than 20 percent over the past two years.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to fund new public health positions like a state toxicologist and a water quality analyst went before a Senate committee Tuesday.

The idea for the positions comes from the recommendations of two legislative commissions. One was set up to investigate a pediatric cancer cluster on the Seacoast. The other investigated environmentally triggered diseases more broadly.

Allison Quantz

State health officials are warning that New Hampshire is in the early stages of a Hepatitis A outbreak.

Thirteen people across southern New Hampshire have become infected by the virus over the past three months. That's already more cases than in the average year.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by ingesting small undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

The New Hampshire House is considering legislation that would extend the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s therapeutic cannabis program.

If passed, House Bill 461 would include Lyme disease, insomnia and anxiety as allowable conditions for medical marijuana.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Two of the state's largest hospitals have taken the first step toward merging into a new healthcare network.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and GraniteOne Health, an existing group that includes Catholic Medical Center, signed a letter of intent Thursday to combine under a new entity. But this is not the first hospital partnership that New Hampshire has seen in the past few years.

Two of the state's largest hospitals are hoping to combine forces in a new healthcare network.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and GraniteOne Health, an existing group that includes Catholic Medical Center, signed a letter of intent Thursday to combine under a new entity called Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne.

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the final version of a new 10-year plan for improving mental health services in the state. The plan, which gathered public input over a series of meetings last fall, calls for immediate action on a number of fronts, including the boarding of mental patients in emergency rooms and the state’s increasing suicide rate.

Janis Oppliger / Unsplash

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire are studying how spending time outdoors might help people who are struggling with substance use disorders.

It's called outdoor behavioral therapy. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Michael Gass, a professor and the current director of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center at UNH.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Office of Child Advocate is calling for additional caseworkers and additional training at the Division of Children, Youth and Families. That was one of many recommendations from the OCA in its first annual report released Monday.

The Office of Child Advocate was created about a year ago in the wake of the deaths of two children at the hands of abusive parents. The deaths occurred despite the fact that both cases had been reported to DCYF.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A new report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues the rollout of New Hampshire's work requirement for expanded Medicaid beneficiaries is doomed to the same problems that have hampered a similar policy in Arkansas.

Jason Moon / NHPR

A new state advisory council on opioid overprescribing will use data analysis to better understand the state's opioid crisis.

Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order creating the New Hampshire Opioid Overprescribing and Misuse Project Advisory Council Thursday afternoon. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Executive Council has approved a $4.4 million contract to fund a new behavioral health crisis treatment center.

The contract, awarded to Riverbend Community Health, will fund a 24/7 crisis center in Concord. It will provide short-term treatment to stabilize patients before connecting them with community mental health resources.

Riverbend CEO Peter Evers says the center will be an alternative to emergency rooms for first responders dropping off someone in a mental health crisis.

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