As what I feel and predict will go from a quiet common state governmental call to action to hard pressed and at times, downright stingy state legislators, Gov. Sununu of New Hampshire has gone quite public in his urgent call for the establishment of inpatient acute state hospital psychiatric beds. This might seem like not so big a deal but I expect that this will become more and more frequent as the acuity of the public deficit in the capabilities to the now overflowing needs in many states overwhelmed by the numbers of chronically mentally ill.
In an article published of all places in the New Hampshire newspaper, The Portland Press Herald, April 21,2017 entitled “New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu calls for more beds at psychiatric hospital,” the Governor publicly declared again but more emphatically the need for major figures in the state government agencies, especially the Dept. of Health and Human Services to mount a rapid effort with short-term corrections, which I guess means “more beds please,” and a long-term realistic plan to address the mental health crises for treatment service delivery in the state. I think that this is noteworthy because it represents a growing trend that has finally burst into the open. However reluctant many governors have been in confronting this issue, I think that more will come out of their legislative closets and start trumpeting the needs for such actions. It has already started in such states as Texas and especially Washington state where Gov. Jay Inslee has been focusing on acute state public mental health issues as much or than any other state chief executive except the Governor and the Virginia’s two year old oversight committee on mental health issues with some of the most comprehensive and innovative programs in the country except perhaps my own state of North Carolina which has worked on these issues very quietly (in spite of HB2 ‘bathroom law’ distraction.
Let me quote from this article what apparently impressed itself perhaps quite at the moment upon the Governor: “Sununu spoke to reporters after touring the emergency department at Concord Hospital, which is frequently full of patients waiting to be admitted to New Hampshire Hospital for inpatient psychiatric care. On the busiest day, in February, 22 psychiatric patients were waiting for beds in a space designed for six.”
In other words the Governor happened to see “up close and personal” what is going and it telling that i would have bet my medical school diploma that he would have seen the same clogging of mental health patients awaiting placement and treatment had he gone to ANY ER in New Hampshire, though I expect given its small size, there is a small sample size to choose from to be statistically fair and responsible. But the situation would have been much the same had he wandered blindfolded in the streets of crowded Manhattan, and had a hospital picked randomly to tour its ER by his political handlers, and he would have seen the same situation.