DHHS reviewing contracts with Granite Pathways, throwing hub and spoke system into question

  • GP1.jpg: Entrance to Granite Pathways Youth Treatment Center on opening day Nov. 1, 2018.GP2.jpg: An information table inside the Granite Pathways Youth Treatment Center.GP3.jpg: State official tour Granite Pathways Youth Treatment Center following the ribbon cutting on Nov. 1, 2018.GP4.jpg: Recreation area inside the Granite Pathways Youth Treatment Center, located outside the individual “pods” where residents sleep.GP5: Community Outreach Coordinator Kelly Riley, left confers with Executive Director of HOPE for NH Recovery, Keith Howard, inside the community recovery center in Manchester. Photo by Carol Robidoux

  • Granite Pathways Youth Treatment Center

Monitor staff
Published: 12/24/2019 3:28:11 PM

After a jarring wave of teenage overdoses at a state facility earlier this month, New Hampshire officials are still reviewing whether to cut ties entirely with the organization in charge.

Granite Pathways, a New York-based nonprofit treatment organization, has already had one state contract terminated earlier this month for its teen substance use disorder facility in Manchester.

After two overdoses earlier this month at the facility, which is housed on the property of the Sununu Youth Services Center, then-Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers announced the state was breaking off the four-year, $15.6 million contract after its first year.

Now, amid a pattern of negative press, the fate of the state’s other agreements with Granite Pathways is also in the balance.

Department officials are combing through all agreements with the organization and will report back findings by the end of December, they said at an Executive Council meeting last week.

The state currently has six contracts with the organization.

“We are in the process of reviewing all our Granite Pathways contracts,” said Christine Tappan, associate commissioner. “We are looking at before the end of this month.”

Tappan said the department would soon be updating the governor’s office on its findings.

“We are certainly using this as much of a learning opportunity as possible as we look forward,” she said. “Believing that these continue to be services that we need.”

A spokesperson for the organization was unavailable to comment this week.

The decision to rescind one contract has dealt a temporary blow to a stated goal of the Sununu administration: expanding substance use disorder services to teens. Before the creation of the Granite Pathways program in Manchester, the state had no substance use disorder program exclusively tailored to adolescents.

The program had initially been greeted with fanfare – voted in unanimously by the Council. The new center, which had accepted Medicaid, was meant to help administer acute treatment for mental health and drug and alcohol problems among teens.

Sununu at the time had hailed the center as a “vital project for our state’s children.”

It is unclear what organization might fill the gap moving forward.

The circumstances also represent a rapid fall from grace for Granite Pathways, which had a banner year in 2018 for state contracts. In addition to being the winning bidder to be the organization creating the treatment facility at the Sununu Center, Granite Pathways also scooped up contracts for two of the nine hubs in the Doorway program – in Nashua and Manchester.

In announcing that Granite Pathways would partner with the state for the new program back in October 2018, Sununu had praised the organization’s willingness to step up to the plate when Manchester and Nashua-area hospitals would not.

“My initial design was to have hospitals, given their 24-hour access become the hubs across the state,” he said. “We approached hubs in Manchester and Nashua, and they didn’t want to participate under the contracts that we provided.”

Meanwhile, as attention centers on Granite Pathways, New Hampshire’s child advocate Moira O’Neill has raised that the teen treatment center was not certified by the child services agency.

O’Neill has lodged transparency complaints, saying certain questions that she has posed to the Department of Health and Human Services about the level of oversight have not been answered.

Asked about that by Councilor Andru Volinsky last week, DHHS officials said the Division for Children, Youth and Families was “providing information that we can,” but that certain patients in the system could not be divulged because they were not placed by DCYF.

“We try to be conscientious when (the child advocate) asks questions about supervision, for example,” Tappan said. “If that might indicate information to her about the youth that is non-DCYF involved, we have to be very conscientious of that fact.”


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