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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Disability advocacy group files class action suit against state

CONCORD – The state’s leading group for those with disabilities launched a class action suit against Gov. John Lynch and the state for “needless institutionalization” of adults with serious mental illness.

The claim from the Disabilities Rights Center follows a finding last April from the Obama administration the state fails to place those with disabilities in the most integrated setting.

Attorney General Michael Delaney disputed the critical federal report last fall noting the state had already declared its mental health system “broken” and “in crisis.”

The state was already moving aggressively to make improvements as much as is allowed during a sluggish economy and very tight state budget, Delaney responded.

The suit charges the state’s treatment of adults at the New Hampshire Hospital and the Glencliff Home are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Nursing Home Reform Act.

New Hampshire Hospital has an admission rate 40 percent higher than the national average. Its readmission rate is nearly double the national average.

In 2010, more than 15 percent of the patients discharged by the hospital were readmitted within 30 days. Nearly one-third were readmitted within 180 days, and some patients are essentially in and out of the hospital all year.

Federal officials also noted that people in psychiatric crisis can wait for hours I a hospital nursing room before they receive help which is both costly and inadequate care.

The federal report noted the state could treat these adults in the community for much lower cost than it now spends to treat them.

The law firm of Devine Millimet is assisting the DRC with its lawsuit that was filed in US District Court in Concord today.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.