Frisbie reflects trend showing less wait time for mental health patients to get help

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Chart shows decrease in NH patient wait times for admission to psychiatric facility over the past two years (Courtesy); inset, a typical emergency room space at Frisbie Memorial Hospital (Rochester Voice file photo)

ROCHESTER - Once plagued by extended wait times for patients with mental health issues awaiting transfer to psychiatric facilities, Frisbie Memorial Hospital today is seeing a dramatic reduction thanks to last month's increase in bed counts at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and quicker admittances to New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, the state's main psychiatric facility.

Dr. Trevor Eide, Frisbie's chief medical officer and medical director of Acute Care Services, told The Rochester Voice last week that they saw a 20 percent decline in wait times from 2018 to 2019.

"I would credit the work in Concord for part of this decline," Eide said in an email. "However, our improving coordination with the Behavioral Health Unit at Portsmouth Regional Hospital has also significantly improved the well-being of our patients by decreasing their ED (emergency department) stay."

Dr. Trevor Eide ... says PRH and NHH are both to be credited with the decrease (Rochester Voice file photo)

In August of 2018, Frisbie emergency department numbers showed the average wait time to get someone admitted to the 160-bed New Hampshire Hospital in Concord was 7-10 days.

In January Portsmouth Regional Hospital announced they were increasing their involuntary inpatient bed count.

This increase is in response to New Hampshire's critical need to address the number of patients in hospital emergency departments waiting for treatment in a psychiatric setting, the hospital stated in a press release.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital increased its bed count by four to a total of 16 involuntary inpatient psychiatric beds in its 30-bed unit

Three weeks ago Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services released additional data highlighting New Hampshire Hospital's successful efforts to decrease the wait time for a bed.
According to new data, the average length of time an individual patient waited for admission to NHH or a designated receiving facility like PRH has decreased by some 40 percent.

It should be noted that Frisbie could well have seen those same numbers, but the hospital transitioned its EMR system in 2017 so they had less data to work with, Eide said.

The rebound in reducing wait times was hailed by Gov. Sununu in a Jan. 29 press release.

"Rebuilding our mental health system has been a priority since day one and I am pleased to have data showing that our efforts are paying off," he said. "It has taken several years of hard work and bipartisan cooperation to get to the point that we have a significantly declining waitlist at New Hampshire Hospital."

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