Kuster meets with MCH staff
U.S. Congresswoman Ann McKlane Kuster met with staff at the Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough Thursday to discuss increased access to federal resources for opioid addiction and the challenges of rural health care.
In a round-table with hospital administrators and staff, Kuster outlined $3.2 billion in new funding that is being appropriated for the country to combat heroin and opioid misuse and abuse.
New Hampshire, as the hardest-hit state per capita when it comes to overdose deaths, will see a portion of that funding, she said.
In particular, Kuster said, there has been a push for an allocated $1 billion in targeted response grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be put toward the ten-hardest hit states in the country.
Specifically, $46 million will be set aside for New Hampshire.
As hospital CFO Rich Scheinblum put it, the hospital’s greatest strength – its small personal care – poses a difficulty for the hospital when it comes to assisting patients with treatment, because of the close nature of the community and the stigma that still surrounds addiction.Kuster also spoke with staff about the difficulties in approaching addiction treatment for rural hospitals.
Many people are resistant to entering programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, said MCH’s Director of Behavioral Health Maria Rosario. “They’re afraid of sitting next to their neighbor.”
And there are often financial issues barring long-term treatment, from having the insurance to cover it to being able to leave work for a significant amount of time and still have a job when they return, Rosario said. Some don’t wish to disclose to an employer why they will be off work for a month or more while they enter treatment.
“How do you get a month out [of work], if you want privacy, how do you get it?” Rosario said.
And finding treatment remains an issue in the state. Kuster said the main contribution to the reduction of psychiatric beds in the state, despite the desperate need for them, was a product of the government reducing reimbursement for medical care. That would have to change, she said.
“Sometimes people think New Hampshire is frugal, but sometimes we’re just cheap,” she said.
Hospital staff said they were aware of a 64-bed medical detox center expected to be built next year in downtown Peterborough, a resource they will be happy to work with and have in the community, but recognized those leaving what is intended to be a short-term detoxification treatment will still need to be connected to a longer-term continuum of care.
Kuster also attended a roundtable at Yankee Magazine in Dublin on Thursday, to discuss impacts of tariffs of newsprint produced in Canada. On Wednesday, it was announced that the tariffs had been terminated by a vote of the U.S. International Trade Commission, which voted unanimously that Canadian newsprint imports do not hurt American paper producers.