Valley News – DHMC adds emergency mental health treatment units


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Published: 9/14/2022 1:11:38 AM

Updated: 9/14/2022 1:11:08 AM

LEBANON – Nine new rooms in the emergency department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon are expected to open to patients on Thursday.

Built over 16 months and expected to cost a total of $9.9 million, the project aims to better address the behavioral and senior needs of the Upper Valley.

“Our focus has always been on rapid behavioral health assessment, reassurance and referral to treatment,” Dr. Christine Finn, director of emergency psychiatric services at DHMC, said in the release. “Now we can skip treatment when a patient has to wait in the ED.”

The department now has a total of 11 rooms for behavioral health services, which have safety features to improve visibility and reduce the risk of self-harm. Six of the new rooms have windows, a feature important to seniors who stay in the department for more than a certain number of hours and to help reduce the confusion of natural light known as “sunset”.

The changes come as access to mental health beds continues to be a challenge for hospitals and patients in New Hampshire, Vermont and across the country. Patients in mental health crisis often wait in emergency rooms for days or weeks without receiving treatment. As of Monday, 42 adults and 19 children were waiting for mental health beds in New Hampshire, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Changes in the emergency department include a medical unit with negative pressure capacity for high-risk infections; group/therapeutic activity unit; Bulk cleaning room and single cleaning room.

The new spaces are aimed at increasing security, more privacy to communicate with lawyers and the state court system, and creating space for social activities for children and adults.

Opening the new behavioral health beds will allow DHMC to reopen the geriatric unit in the emergency department.

In the year In March 2021, DHMC announced in a news release that it is the nation’s only rural Level 1 Geriatric Emergency Department, a designation by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The designation indicates that DHMC adheres to best practices for working with the elderly, provides interdisciplinary geriatric education, and provides appropriate equipment and supplies.

Just last month, MT Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor announced that it was accredited as a Level 2 Geriatric Emergency Department by a member of the DH System, which helps ensure the best transition from emergency care to emergency care, he said. Department prioritizes education in other settings as well as in geriatrics.

“I’m proud to say that we provide the very best care for our elderly patients,” Lee Morissette, assistant chief physician at Met Ascutney’s emergency department, said in a news release last month.

DH first In the year In 2019, the emergency room for the elderly announced the program A three-year, $4.5 million research collaboration with the West Health Institute, a California-based applied medical research organization.

DH It was announced later MT Ascutney, who will receive accreditation from Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, Randolph Gifford Medical Center and Claremont Valley Regional Hospital as a geriatric emergency room – “talks” to DHMC’s “hub of communication.” Aiming to reduce hospital admissions and readmissions and improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with dementia and dementia, the project involved geriatricians at DHMC using telemedicine technology to consult with clinicians in small hospitals.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.


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