Executive Council postpones vote related to youth mental health hospital

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As children wait in emergency departments at New Hampshire hospitals for mental health beds to become available, the Executive Board voted Wednesday to shelve a $52 million contract to fix the problem. Chris Sununu and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette asked the council to approve the contract quickly. The state is buying Hampstead Hospital to increase the number of beds available for New Hampshire youth in mental health crisis to help them get out of emergency rooms, where they can be placed for days. The board approved $33 million for the hospital’s operating budget but filed a $52 million contract to hire Tennessee-based Wellpath Recovery Solutions to provide inpatient services. Shibinette warned that delays could have consequences. ” she said. But advisers were unanimous in their demand for more oversight. “It’s a sole-source contract, a $52 million contract,” Republican adviser Dave Wheeler said. “We just need more time to review it.” Democratic adviser Cinde Warmington said she was fine with the plan but needed more time. “Basically, I don’t really worries. I just have to do my due diligence,” Warmington said. “Every day a child waits in an emergency room is too many days,” she said. “We do that in very short notice – three days – and we will hold the hearings in the hospital, in the context of emergencies,” said New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Gordon MacDonald. Sununu is hoping for a vote on the Hampstead Hospital’s $52 million contract at the next board meeting in two weeks.”But if it lasts much longer than that, it could put the project in jeopardy,” he said.

As children wait in emergency departments at New Hampshire hospitals for mental health beds to become available, the Executive Board voted Wednesday to shelve a $52 million contract to fix the problem.

Governor Chris Sununu and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette asked the council to approve the contract quickly. The state is buying Hampstead Hospital to increase the number of beds available for New Hampshire youth in mental health crisis to help them get out of emergency rooms, where they can be placed for days.

The board approved $33 million for the hospital’s operating budget, but filed a $52 million contract to hire Tennessee-based Wellpath Recovery Solutions to provide inpatient services.

Shibinette warned that delays could have consequences.

“If we put this down for a while, it could definitely impact our ability to close this hospital,” she said.

But councilors were unanimous in their demand for more oversight.

“It’s a sole-source contract, a $52 million contract,” Republican adviser Dave Wheeler said. “We just need more time to review it.”

Democratic Councilwoman Cinde Warmington said she was on board with the plan but needed more time.

“Basically, I don’t really have any concerns. I just have to do my due diligence,” Warmington said.

Shibinette said she is trying to move the process along quickly because children in mental health crisis are in emergency departments waiting for beds to become available.

“Every day a child waits in an emergency room is too many days,” she said.

The board approved $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to speed up the involuntary emergency admission process, another contributing factor to the emergency services boarding crisis.

“We’re doing this on a very tight timeline — three days — and we’re going to hold the hearings in the hospital, in the emergency room,” New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Gordon MacDonald said.

Sununu is hoping for a vote on Hampstead Hospital’s $52 million contract at the next board meeting in two weeks.

“But if it goes much longer than that, it could put the project in jeopardy,” he said.

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