April 27, 2020 – by Amy Coveno
WMUR Channel 9
Agencies Adapting to COVID-19 Conditions
MANCHESTER, N.H. – A staggering loss in Medicare revenue has state mental health services raising the alarm to the governor’s office for emergency relief and recovery.
Agencies that work with the elderly, veterans, the disabled and those who need mental health support offered a snapshot of how this pandemic is impacting their ability to meet the needs of their clients.
“The 10 mental health centers, members of our association, will see a loss of revenue of approximately $18 million over six months,” said Jay Couture, the CEO of Seacoast Mental Health Center.
The community mental health centers did not close when the pandemic began, they still offer 24/7 emergency services and are still doing involuntary inpatient admissions. Now, front line health care workers are needing support as well.
“The centers have been nimble in the speedy transition to mental health service. Which we had to do within a week,” Couture said.
Administrators believe it will be six months before revenue streams and operations return to normal, an estimated $1 million has been spent on personal protective equipment and technology support since the start of the crisis. One analyst made a dire prediction.
“At the risk of being dramatic, this could be the end of independent practitioner mental health care on many levels of providers,” said Roland Lamy from the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association.
Granite State Independent Living serves 1,800 people across the state and reports a dramatic decline in personal care attendants in the home, and reports to adult protective services regarding abuse and neglect are down 27%. Officials called tele-meetings subpar.
“You can’t see the home,” said Deborah Ritcey the CEO of Granite State Independent Living. “You can’t see if there is food in the cupboard. Good hygiene.”
Patients and families are declining in-home care for fear of outsiders entering the home. Revenues for hospice and home care are down 20-30%.
The use of the CARES Act funding is flexible, but agencies were warned against “double-dipping” if federal funds have already been used to meet a certain need. Agencies receiving $750,000 or more will be audited by the federal government.