Letter: Governor’s SPU plan is ‘backroom politics’

Published: 5/15/2019 12:01:25 AM

As a former administrator of a hospital’s behavioral health unit and a former trustee of a community mental health center, I read Nick Toumpas’s article (Monitor Opinion, May 1) about a Secure Psychiatric Unit with real interest.

Toumpas is half right but fails to address the “elephant ” in the middle of this issue. There is lots that should have been done decades ago to address New Hampshire’s behavioral health needs, and it is certainly appropriate that the governor included substantial money in his budget to start that process. Toumpas is also correct that we don’t need more studies, and that the SPU should not be located at the State Prison. However, what needs to be addressed immediately is the unconscionable boarding of behavioral health patients in community hospital ERs – patients who no one claims should be in an SPU.

In March, the Union Leader reported that one of the companies that proposes to build a new SPU had made a five-figure campaign contribution to the governor; that a friend of the governor is a lobbyist for that same corporation; and that the same lobbyist works with the governor’s brother. It’s certainly appropriate that the governor included money in his budget to address some of our mental health problems, but it is very unclear why it should first be spent on a new SPU.

Until the behavioral health leaders in the state suggest that the first step should be a new SPU, it’s hard not to see the governor’s proposal as anything but “backroom politics.”



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