Foundation Study Examines Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Care in New Hampshire 04.29.2014

 

Attention News Editors

 

Contact: John Clayton

VP, Communications

603-415-4255

 

 

For Immediate Release                                       

April 29, 2014                                                                   

                                                                                            

 

Foundation Study Examines Barriers to Accessing

Mental Health Care in New Hampshire

 

CONCORD – In a study examining access to mental health care in New Hampshire, researchers discovered that a major bottleneck in the system is the lack of appropriate, community-based housing when patients have completed their course of care.

“The most frequently cited barrier to discharge was a place to live or stay,” said Shawn LaFrance, who is executive director of the Foundation for Healthy Communities and the author of the study. “This affected 71 percent of the patients in the survey.”

The survey, which was conducted from Nov. 1, 2013 through Feb. 28, 2014 using data from all of the community mental health centers in New Hampshire and the 10 hospitals with inpatient behavioral health services in the state, also revealed that:

  • The average waiting time for new adult patient to have an appointment with a mental health counselor or therapist was 26 days, while the average waiting time for a new child or adolescent patient was 42 days.
  • The average number of psychiatric patients in hospital emergency departments awaiting placement in the New Hampshire State Hospital was 21 adults and five children, with spikes as high as 35 adults and 14 children.
  • The average operating cost for a day of in-patient care in an acute care community hospital is $2,912, while the average operating cost for a day of supportive housing is $297 per day ($245 per day supportive care from CMHC care + $52 per day housing room & board).

“Improving access to quality and timely behavioral health services requires a systems approach,” LaFrance said, “since there are many points in the care continuum where a lack of services creates a cascading effect.

“For instance, a patient who completes inpatient treatment and is ready for discharge -- but is unable to leave the hospital because of inadequate post-acute care housing – then blocks the availability of that inpatient bed,” he added.

“Adding the total number of days that patients are unable to be discharged, and considering the average length of stay (ALOS) for inpatient treatment, provided an indicator of how many people waiting in EDs might be admitted for the inpatient care they need.

“By using costly inpatient resources more effectively, in concert with adequate community services, we may improve timely access to quality care and the efficiency of those more costly inpatient services,” he added.

To read the entire report, click here...

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The Foundation for Healthy Communities is a nonprofit corporation that exists to improve health and health care in New Hampshire. The Foundation’s partnerships include hospitals, health plans, clinicians, home care agencies, public policy leaders, and other organizations.

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