DHHS

THOMAS FEARON

The Executive Council is slated to vote Wednesday on a contract between the state hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital. The vote comes as an independent investigation gets underway about a former patient's suicide. 

Update: N.H.'s Struggling Mental Health System

Jul 17, 2016

The state is behind schedule in expanding the types of community-based mental health services that keep people out of hospitals and other institutions. The timeline for developing those services was laid out in a $30 million class action lawsuit settlement in 2014 that alleged New Hampshire was violating the civil rights of people with mental illness. We check in on statewide efforts to improve the state's mental health system, what data tells us about the situation, and goals for implementation going forward.


Casey McDermott, NHPR

By the time Sanctuary ATC opened its doors in Plymouth — around 11 a.m. Saturday morning — about a dozen people were already huddled around on the porch or hanging out in the parking lot outside, hoping to get in.

The state gave the medical marijuana dispensary the green light to open Friday afternoon. And by the end of its first day, the dispensary ended up served 45 people in all, according to its director.

Jonathan Cohen via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/78H5Sy

New Hampshire's child protection division is proposing adding a second shift and a new on-call system as a first step toward being able to respond to allegations 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The Executive Council voted Wednesday to confirm Jeffrey Meyers as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meyers has been the interim commissioner since early January, when Commissioner Nick Toumpas stepped down. Meyers has held other positions in state government, including as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for DHHS, as well as Chief Legal Counsel to former Governor John Lynch and legal counsel to the state Senate.

Meyers has been appointed to a four-year term as commissioner. 

Flickr/Grape Crush, Indica-4

Three out of four of New Hampshire's medical marijuana dispensaries are now approved to start cultivating cannabis. 

Temescal Wellness just got approval from the Department of Health and Human Services to start growing marijuana. The Manchester company will operate two dispensaries, one in Dover and another in Lebanon. Their grow site will be in Manchester.

NHPR

When Nick Toumpas steps down from his role as commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services at the end of this week, he’ll leave behind a job leading the largest state agency – and arguably its most complex – at a time when New Hampshire’s population is aging, its health needs are becoming increasingly complicated and budgets are stretched thin.

NHPR

We're sitting down with outgoing Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas. As head of the state's largest agency for eight eventful years, Toumpas dealt with several enormous challenges, from Medicaid expansion to medical marijuana to the opioid epidemic. We'll get his take on his tenure as he prepares to leave office, and ask what advice he might give his successor.

A federal judge has ruled against a former state employee who claimed she was fired from the Department of Health and Human Services for trying to breast-feed her child during the workday.

The Concord Monitor reports a judge ruled last month that Katherine Frederick was provided breaks and a private place to express milk, as required by law. The judge called the Department's policy "stingy," but noted it didn't violate any laws by refusing to let her breastfeed either in the lactation room or a short distance away.

Awaiting N.H.'s Medical Marijuana Program

Sep 24, 2015
Brett Levin / Flickr/CC

The therapeutic use of cannabis has been legal  for about two years now, but the process of establishing cultivation centers, dispensaries, and ID cards is still underway. While many praise the state for its careful approach, others suffering from conditions they hope to treat with the drug are becoming impatient. 

GUESTS:

DHHS

At a meeting Monday morning at the Sununu Youth Center in Manchester, a bipartisan group of N.H. lawmakers discussed several options of how the facility can save money due to its low enrollment. The facility currently houses 44 people but it can hold 144.

Senate and House members applauded the juvenile detention center for operating at a third of its capacity. but said it needs to better utilize its funding in order to serve more youth.

The group did; however, rule out closing the facility.

New Hampshire Senate
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  

Senate budget writers are likely to hear pleas for a restoration of funds for people with developmental disabilities, programs for the elderly and substance abuse treatment during an upcoming budget hearing.

DavidWilson1949 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Senate Finance Committee will consider funding for the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

The Senate will take up the House budget, which ends funding for the state’s expanded Medicaid program, suspends ServiceLink - which connects elderly and disabled residents with funding and services - and delays a 10-bed mental health crisis unit at New Hampshire Hospital by one year.

While the House budget increased the Health and Human Services budget $110 million over the previous year, it fell $200 million short of Governor Hassan’s proposed budget.

Jamie Gemmiti / Conway Daily Sun

The state has long worked to support people with disabilities in the least restrictive ways as possible, preferably right at home. But a small group still end up in institutions. Now though, one of these facilities is getting a hard look after reports of abuse.  We’ll discuss this system overall and where more oversight might be needed.

GUESTS:

Susan Simoneta via Flickr CC

Nursing home residents from across the state are pushing for Gov. Maggie Hassan to reinstate a $7 million cut in expected Medicaid reimbursements.

More than a dozen residents and nursing home administrators arrived at the Statehouse Tuesday with Republican Sen. Jeanie Forrester seeking a meeting with Hassan. Nursing homes aren't receiving a $7 million rate increase they had been expecting due to budget shortfalls in the Department of Health and Human Services. The nursing homes have received the increase since 2008 and most created their budgets around them.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

State health officials say in the highly unlikely event any Ebola patients are identified in New Hampshire, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon has agreed to accept them.

The Department of Health and Human Services says each of the state’s 26 hospitals are prepared to identify and isolate a potential Ebola patient, but that long-term care would be better managed at the Lebanon hospital, or a designated national center.

Outside of three cases in Dallas, Texas, no one in the U.S. has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Mr.Ripp

State health officials say a New Hampshire resident has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.

The Manchester resident was likely exposed to EEE in August, then passed away in September. This is the second EEE-related death and the third human case of EEE this year.

The virus spreads from birds to humans through mosquito bites. Symptoms come on like the flu, then in some people lead to encephalitis, or severe brain swelling.

Centers for Disease Control

  One of the people infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in New Hampshire this year has died from the disease. The 51 year old woman spent nearly a month in the hospital before succumbing to the illness.

According to the online obituary of a Rhode Island Funeral Home, Diane Humphreys of Conway passed away in a hospice home in Maine on September eighteenth.

Humphreys was the first confirmed human case of triple E in the state back in August.

Dirty Bunny via Flickr/CreativeCommons

The state saw fewer healthcare-associated infections last year.

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, New Hampshire’s 33 hospitals reported a total of 183 in 2013. That’s down from 198 in 2012.

Beth Daly, the chief of infectious disease surveillance at DHHS, says the numbers are largely positive.

“Forgunately, in this year’s report, we see that most hospitals have a similar number of infections as predicted based on national data or fewer infections than expected.”

Frustration With Medical Marijuana Delays

Apr 17, 2014
West Coast Cannabis / Flickr/CC

Last year, supporters of marijuana use for health purposes cheered when a bill became law. They’ve since been frustrated, however, over the timeframe of dispensaries and patient cards, also the lack of a “grow your own” option.  But others say patience is needed, that implementation should be done carefully to avoid dangerous mistakes.

GUESTS:

DHHS Commissioner Toumpas

Jan 22, 2014
New Hampshire Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

You would think that the commissioner of the state’s largest agency has one of the biggest to-do lists of the year, and for Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas, you’re probably right. A new year brings new challenges for Toumpas: with Medicaid, there’s the implementation of its managed care program, as well as the continuing debate over its expansion.

About 100 people between Friday and Saturday turned up at Bow High School for Hepatitis-A vaccines.  They were offered by the state after a second employee at the Covered Bridge Restaurant in Contoocook tested positive for the disease.  Rick Cricenti directs Emergency Services for the Department of Health and Human Services  He says the agency reached out to more people than those who were at the restaurant when the first infected employee was working.

While work on the state’s next two year budget continues in the Senate, the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), a levy on hospital revenue, still sits in the spotlight.

MET collection is $34 million short of estimates for this fiscal year. In Monday's Senate Finance Committee meeting, lawmakers expressed concern about overly optimistic forecasts for the next two year cycle.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas testified before the committee. He says that while his agency oversees Medicaid, it doesn’t handle taxes.

Thomas Fearon

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to temporarily reopen 12 beds at the state’s psychiatric hospital.

The state now needs to find more than $2 million to cover the cost.

Mental health advocates say the plan to add beds at New Hampshire Hospital is an encouraging first step in addressing long waiting lists for treatment.

But Ken Norton with the state chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill says there is still much work to be done.

State's Biggest Agency Asks For Budget Increase

Nov 27, 2012

The Department of Health and Human Services is asking for $321 million more to cover their programs for the next two years.   

Medicaid Expansion Under The Microscope

Nov 15, 2012
Todd Bookman / NHPR

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report Thursday looking at Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services has faced huge challenges in recent years – deep budget cuts, lawsuits, and, most recently, a crisis involving Exeter Hospital and patients infected with Hepatitis C. Now, its Commissioner NickToumpas must take the scalpel again to his budget, even as need for his agency’s services remains strong. We'll talk to him about that and other challenges in his department.

Guest

Nick Toumpas - Commissioner for the NH Department of Health and Human Services

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the confirmation of another patient infected with Hepatitis C while receiving treatment at Exeter Hospital.

This new case, confirmed by the Department of Public Health Services, brings the total number of infected up to 33. That includes David Kwiatkowski, the former hospital employee charged with stealing drugs and refilling the used syringes with saline solution. They were later reused on patients.

Eighteen new batches of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the greater Manchester, Nashua and Salem areas.

The state epidemiologist says this is the first announcement of West Nile Virus from the state this year. The city of Manchester has already reported 8 mosquito batches that tested positive. That brings the state total so far to 26, 23 in Manchester alone. 2 batches tested positive in Nashua and 1 in Salem.

Last year New Hampshire only found a total of 9 positive batches.

Sam Evans-Brown

The Department of Health and Human Services has revised its plan for testing patients who were exposed to the Hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital.

DHHS says that during the past week the estimated number of patients who might have been exposed to Hepatitis C has been reduced to around 3,300, because many of the names on the list were repeats. They say in the new plan to test those patients there are 4 locations: in Stratham, Plaistown, Manchester and Rochester starting August 10th.