Youth center halts admissions after residents hospitalized

November 26, 2019

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The state has ordered a Manchester youth substance abuse treatment center to suspend admissions after five residents were taken to a hospital, but center officials deny they overdosed.

WMUR-TV reports that four girls and a boy from Granite Pathways were taken to a hospital Monday night after a 911 caller told authorities the children may have taken the sedative Xanax. Fire officials said the patients were conscious but showing symptoms of overdosing, including slurred speech.

In a statement, however, Granite Pathways said there were no overdoses.

“Granite Pathways called 911 because we believed that residents had used drugs and showed signs of impairment and because of a serious behavioral issue of one of the residents,” the center said in a statement.

Some of the residents were released to their parents shortly after being taken to the hospital, while others were monitored overnight and discharged, the center said.

“At the time of the incident, the Manchester police had detained one of the residents, and that resident appeared to have ingested a significant quantity of his medication after he was detained,” the center said. “The other residents that may have used drugs likely got them off site, as they had been attending a community AA meeting off site, prior to the observation of impairment. We are confident that one resident brought drugs back after a home visit.”

The center serves up to 36 children ages 12-17 who are struggling with drug or alcohol problems, with an average stay of 48 days. The first dedicated treatment center of its kind in New Hampshire for adolescents, it opened a year ago in a renovated wing of the Sununu Youth Services Center, though it is separate from the detention center.

The facility is not a locked down program, and residents leave for community-based care.

“While we guard against and have protocols to prevent drugs from coming into the building, this is a complex population and addiction is a very challenging disease to treat and manage,” Granite Pathways said.

Gov. Chris Sununu and state health officials plan to hold a news conference about the incident Wednesday.

Jake Leon, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday that the incident is under review.

“Our priority is ensuring the health and safety of the youths who are there today,” he said in an email. “We have directed Granite Pathways to suspend all admissions to the program until our review is complete.”