On Monday of this week, I joined representatives from a variety of health profession, law enforcement, and patient advocacy organizations to speak about the mental health crisis in New Hampshire.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire (NAMINH) organized the press conference to share new data on the excessive wait times for people in mental health crisis.  

At the time of Monday's press conference, 31 adults and five children sat languishing in hospital emergency rooms across the state waiting for a bed to open at the New Hampshire State Psychiatric Hospital.  Since July, there have been a minimum of 30 patients per week waiting for admission, with a maximum of 120.  You can read full  details here.

The organizations recommended the immediate creation of a task-force/commission/work group to report back to the Legislature and governor within 60 days with recommendations for resolving the current crisis of people waiting in Emergency Departments for admission to New Hampshire Hospital.

Perhaps Dr. Jeff Fetter, president of the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society, described the impact of this crisis best "Someone in the midst of a psychiatric crisis needs to be surrounded by safety, not chaos.  These rooms were designed for patients suffering from heart attacks, not hallucinations."  

As physicians we would not tolerate delays in emergency medical care for medical or surgical problems such as acute myocardial infarction or appendicitis; it's time we apply the same standards to the psychiatric crisis as well.