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New Hampshire to buy private pediatric psychiatric hospital

October 14, 2021 GMT

HAMPSTEAD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire will use federal recovery funds to buy the private Hampstead Hospital in the latest effort to address a shortage of psychiatric hospital beds in the state, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced that he expects the deal to be closed by the end of the year, the Concord Monitor reported. The cost of the purchase wasn’t immediately clear.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that all these families and individuals know there is a place to turn, there is a system that they can rely on when they need them,” he said.

The New Hampshire Department of Health holds a contract with the hospital to serve as the inpatient psychiatric provider for children, and the hospital will continue to serve children once it’s owned by the state.

The coronavirus pandemic, which forced schools online and left children anxious and isolated, has created an unprecedented demand for pediatric mental health services.

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During the pandemic, Hampstead Hospital has served an average of 40 children at a time, but the program has a capacity for more than 100 beds if it’s fully staffed, officials said.

“We are not building a new program,” DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette told reporters at a news conference. “We are taking an existing program that is already committed to quality.”

The local National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter reported that 21 children were on the waiting list for an inpatient psychiatric bed this week.