Council Approves Funds To Buy Hampstead Hospital

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Hampstead Hospital in Hampstead


CONCORD – The state has agreed to purchase the 111-bed Hampstead Hospital in Hampstead on Wednesday to care for children, which will help to alleviate the state’s emergency room boarding crisis.

For the past few years, the state has had a hard time finding enough psychiatric hospital beds for both adults and children. They have been housed in emergency rooms until a bed is found.

It has been the subject of litigation, with the state needing to find a solution by court order.

The state hopes to have not just Hampstead Hospital available for children but other facilities, state officials said and that could happen in the next few months.

A $15 million contract with HCA/Portsmouth Regional Hospital to build such a facility was withdrawn from the council agenda by the Department of Health and Human Services at the last minute.

But the Hampstead Hospital idea is now a “go.”

Built in 1974 on 100 acres of woodlands and rolling fields, Hampstead Hospital was the first private psychiatric hospital licensed by the state, according to its website.

It has provided care for both adults and children and will now transition exclusively to children’s care.

The council used federal funds to authorize to enter into an asset purchase agreement with Hampstead Outlook Inc., Philips J. Kubiak, as Trustee of the Trusts to acquire the licensed and accredited psychiatric hospital.

The asset purchase agreement was for $13 million.

Commissioner of Health and Human Services Lori Shibinette said the state is contracting with a third-party vendor to operate the hospital and another contract item approved Wednesday will pay for a strike team for Hampstead Hospital which will be ready to go as quickly as Thursday, she said in response to questions of Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, a Concord Democrat.

Shibinette said there are no plans to expand the size of the hospital, though survey teams are at the property to help effect the transfer of the deed, she told Executive Councilor Janet Stevens, a Rye Republican.

The state will contract with Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services Inc., Manchester, for pediatric psychiatric inpatient care strike teams, in the amount of $2,223,977 through July 31, 2022, with the option to renew for up to two additional six-month periods.

The 100 percent federal funds were approved by the legislative Fiscal Committee on Jan. 21.
Currently, 45 beds at Hampstead are occupied by children.

This past summer, the state floated the idea to buy the private hospital and members of the Board of Selectman attended a meeting where they were told that the state would make payments in lieu of taxes if they purchased the facility.

New State Hospital Unit

A contract with SMRT Inc., Portland, ME, for design work for the a new Secure Psychiatric Forensic Hospital in Concord was approved for a price not to exceed $3,049,443.

Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus said a completion date of 2023 is envisioned.

The state will hold a virtual information session on the project on Jan. 31 regarding the project.
It is the second in a series of information sessions to provide updates on the proposal to build a secure forensic hospital adjacent to New Hampshire Hospital.

The first information session was held in October 2021 and this will be an opportunity to review the next steps for the project and take questions from the public.

The state intends to hold additional meetings as the project advances.
The 6 p.m. meeting will be held on Zoom and can be accessed at

Seacoast Science Center Renewal

Despite an effort to table the item by Councilor Stevens, the council approved an amendment to the existing contract with the Seacoast Science Center Inc. for Educational & Interpretive Center Management by changing the scope of the contract to enable it to raise monies through private, foundation, and public support to fund a capital renovation and expansion of its building on the state parkland and other investments in Odiorne Point State Park.

It also agreed to a 20-year lease extension.
The Science Center is looking to raise $10 million over time.

The change in contract extends the end date from December 20, 2026, to December 31, 2042.

New Hampshire has a self-funded park system and works with partners to help support its operation.

Phil Bryce, state parks director, said the state agreed to support them to get them on their feet and now they are “really good at what they do and are in a much better financial situation.”

The deal will allow the state to get the Science Center to pay more. For example, the $50,000 the state just spent to fix the roof will not be a problem going forward, Bryce said, because the Science Center will pay for that.

Stevens wanted to know more about the impacts to the neighborhood and public use with the contract change, for example, if there would be a restaurant there.

“It’s a balancing act. I want to proceed cautiously,” Stevens said.

Bryce said they will have a difficult time raising the money and doing the design work without an extended lease.
Stevens asked for a motion to the table to get more details.

Gov. Chris Sununu said, “I don’t think there is anything else to provide.”
Right now the state has a concept but would need the contract to invest $100,000 in architectural plans.

While Stevens asked for the matter to be tabled, she did not find support.

Republican Ted Gatsas of Manchester said he did not see the point in tabling it.

Stevens said the length of the lease is unprecedented and she has constituents concerned about how this is going to impact the park.

“I want to have some answers,” she said.

“What happens if they walk away?” Gatsas said.

From a business point of view, it made no sense for them to get the architectural work without approval.

Warmington said it might be that investors would be discouraged by a lack of support from the state if it were tabled.

“On balance I don’t see the benefit and I see some downside to tabling it,” Warmington said.

The motion to table failed and it was adopted.

National Guard

The council approved $539,490 of American Rescue Plan Act funds for the National Guard to provide emergency staffing needs in the state prison system.

Helen Hanks, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections, said the long-term plan is to get nationally competitive salaries and attract more workers.

Hanks said she was surprised by the high number of retirements from the system. She noted that helping the situation has been a 38 percent reduction in inmates.

She said most all correctional departments in the nation are struggling to find staff and are competing with police, fish and game departments, and other law enforcement for staff.
Hanks said the state has started a high school curriculum for careers in corrections from nursing, kitchen, logistics, “it takes a whole community, ” Hanks said.

Sununu noted the biggest raises in state government have been among corrections workers, but Warmington said there is still a disparity between law enforcement.

“Then we could keep working at it,” Sununu said.

Hanks said the National Guard members have been excellent partners in helping with the current crunch, in part due to illnesses, and she gave credit to existing corrections staff for working so hard.

 Councilor Warmington voted against a salary increment for the Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut from KK Step 4 $117,026 to KK Step 5 $123,448, effective Feb. 15, 2022. The rest of the council approved it.
Unsung State Employees

Sununu honored some “unsung heroes” in state government and brought in the team from the Bureau of Securities Regulation within the Secretary of State’s office.
Secretary of State David Scanlan said they protect citizens and don’t usually get much in the way of recognition.

For nearly 100 years they have protected people from unethical investors, and protected individual assets from fraud, according to the commendation.

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