CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Chris Sununu issued an order Thursday expanding access to mental health services, in response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling that psychiatric patients being held involuntarily in emergency rooms must be given a chance to contest their detention promptly.
The order adds beds at receiving facilities and ensures services are received from health care providers. It also ensures better community partnerships.
“This order will also review all mental health services across the entire state to determine if the providers we currently utilize are truly equipped and truly capable of meeting the need of New Hampshire citizens, and we are going to be exploring additional opportunities, both in and out state in the private sector," Sununu said at his weekly news conference.
The state achieved a major milestone in April 2020 when, for the first time in eight years, no one was waiting in a hospital emergency room for an inpatient psychiatric bed. But the numbers went back up during the pandemic and in recent days, more than 80 mental health patients, including record numbers of children, have been waiting in emergency departments for inpatient beds.
“We're literally doing it today as we speak," Sununu said. “Folks are being transferred out, beds are being opened up, investments are being made. Seek out those services."
He said the most pressing issue is that “we go back to where we were about a year ago, where folks just aren't waiting in emergency rooms anymore, where those services are being provided," and creating a long-term plan.
In other coronavirus-related news:
WALK-IN VACCINE CLINICS
Starting next week, New Hampshire will allow people without an appointment to walk into its state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites.
People will be allowed to go to the clinics from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. as of Monday.
Also, two special clinics have been scheduled. The first one, on Friday, May 21, is for residents in New Hampshire and Vermont and will be held in Lancaster. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered.
The other clinic is for the deaf and hard of hearing, on Saturday, May 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Elliot Health System in Manchester. American Sign Language interpreters will be provided. Appointments can be made through videophone at 603-546-7882, Voice at 603-271-9097, and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Hampshire is planning to end the $300-a-week supplemental federal payment for people collecting state unemployment benefits before it expires on Labor Day, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.
About 10 states have already announced they are planning to stop accepting the $300 benefit.
Sununu, a Republican who first addressed the subject earlier in the day at the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire’s virtual economic summit, did not give a date for when the enhancement would be discontinued.
The BIA recently wrote to Sununu asking that the benefit come to an end, saying it “makes it easier for some unemployed individuals to choose to stay at home rather than return to work.”
On May 23, the state will require those receiving unemployment benefits to show they are actively searching for work.
The New Hampshire Senate met in person Thursday for the first time during the current legislative session.
“Congratulations for working together to make today happen," Senate President Chuck Morse told his colleagues at the Statehouse.
The Senate met in Representatives Hall — traditionally the home of the New Hampshire House — as it had last year. The House has been meeting at a sports complex in Bedford this session.
Senate members observed wearing masks and social distancing. Earlier this month, the Republican-led Joint Facilities Committee voted to remove a requirement that masks be worn to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Statehouse and legislative office building. The Statehouse remains closed to everyone but lawmakers and staff.
Among its actions Thursday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would delete a requirement that a private school be nonsectarian in order to be approved as a school tuition program. Supporters said the bill relates to towns that don't have all grade levels and allows parents to be more involved in their children's education.
Opponents said the bill, which originated in the House, would authorize public funds to send children to religious schools, which violates the state constitution.
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections is going to allow inmates to request in-person visits, which had been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Hampshire Public Radio reports that inmates who have been vaccinated will be able to hug their visitors. They will also be able to sit at the same table without remaining 6 feet (2 meters) apart. Those who have not been vaccinated will not be allowed those accommodations.
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the state prisons and their visitors will be required to wear masks. Visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
The department is planning to start visits the week of June 7.
More than 97,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Hampshire, including 222 cases announced Thursday. Four new deaths were announced, with the total reaching 1,326.
The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 287 new cases a day on April 27 to 173 new cases a day Tuesday.