Plan to build new secure psychiatric facility in Concord moving ahead

  • One of two possible locations for a secure forensic psychiatric hospital in Concord as of 2022. Courtesy of NH DHHS

Monitor staff
Published: 6/29/2022 4:06:24 PM

A secure facility for 24 patients with mental illness could be operating alongside New Hampshire Hospital in Concord within two years, although many details remain to be worked out.

The state will present an online update Thursday night at 6 p.m. about the status of the project.

“This one is really a summary” of three earlier presentations, said Ellen Lapointe, CEO of New Hampshire Hospital, the state’s acute psychiatric hospital. It will include information on how to see details from the earlier presentations. 

The $30 million hospital was approved by the Legislature in 2020 to house patients in the criminal justice system who had been found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. These patients are currently held in the prison’s Secure Psychiatric Unit, which is not accredited for mental health services.

As plans currently stand, the facility would be built on the existing visitor parking lot of the New Hampshire Hospital. A new parking area would have to be created.

Lapointe said the next step will be the design phase.

“We’re kind of at the nuance stage: designing interior patient units, where hallways and doorways and all of those important safety-related features are for the best layout of the unit,” she said.

The schedule calls for the state to request bids from construction companies in the fall, with work to begin in the spring of 2023 and take about a year.

The secure unit will be much smaller than the hospital, which can hold up to 180 patients.

“There is a thought that really a 60-bed facility would meet the need, but I think that 24 beds will definitely be a good start,” said Lapointe. “The important thing is getting patients into a hospital environment.”

Once constructed, the state will face the problems of finding and keeping enough staff, which has proven difficult in the health field.

“Staffing is definitely a challenge. Hopefully, with this being a program specific to this population, folks that are interested in serving this population will want to come and join our team,” Lapointe said. “It’s not a small problem, but one that we’re looking forward to getting done.”

A link for the webinar, which starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, is at www.dhhs.nh.gov/about-dhhs/locations-facilities/new-hampshire-hospital/proposed-forensic-hospital-information.


David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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