New Hampshire Hospital children’s wing proposal called ‘premature’

  • New Hampshire Hospital in Concord as seen on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Saturday, May 06, 2017

A plan to spend $3 million designing a new children’s wing of the state psychiatric hospital met a frosty welcome in a Senate committee Friday, with lawmakers saying it is premature.

“That’s actually engineering dollars and we don’t know what we want to do yet,” said Senate President Chuck Morse.

The Legislature is already considering a bill to dramatically increase the number of mental health beds and require state officials come up with a plan to move children out of New Hampshire Hospital.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers requested the design money in a capital budget hearing Friday. The state psychiatric hospital often has a long wait list and shifting adolescent patients into a new building or wing would free up as many as 48 beds for adults, Meyers has said.

Morse said the state should come up with a plan before spending money on a design.

The state is struggling to deal with a mental health crisis, as dozens of patients are often forced to wait days or weeks in hospital emergency rooms for beds to open at the state hospital. The bill, filed by Sen. Jeb Bradley, calls for the state to contract with private hospitals and non profits to setup 68 new mental health beds. It would cost an estimated $20 million over two years. No beds would be constructed at New Hampshire Hospital under the bill. 

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)