Medical Chief Set to Leave N.H. Hospital

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2016 11:32:01 PM

Lebanon — A Jan. 15 departure looms for the chief medical officer at New Hampshire Hospital, the state’s main hospital for severely mental ill patients who have been judged to pose a danger to themselves or others, according to announcements issued on Monday.

David Folks, who is a professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine and has been the state hospital’s chief medical officer since 2008, said in a news release that he plans to leave both jobs.

“On a personal level, although I love this institution, I have made the difficult decision to leave,” he said.

Folks’ statement was sent out by Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the Lebanon-based health system which on July 1 became the organizational parent for a psychiatry department that previously was overseen by Dartmouth College. That release went out about 45 minutes after an announcement by state Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers.

News of Folks’ impending departure came just 12 days after the state Executive Council approved a 32-month, $36.6 million contract with D-H to provide psychiatric services at the 168-bed Concord facility.

That contract became mired in controversy after D-H declined to offer jobs to some psychiatrists and advanced practice nurses who worked for Dartmouth and had balked at signing letters of intent promising to stay on if D-H got the contract. Debate intensified and spilled over into the Republican and Democratic primary races for governor after a recently released New Hampshire Hospital patient died by suicide in Nashua, N.H.

Both parties nominated Executive Council members — Republican Chris Sununu and Democrat Colin Van Ostern — who both voted to approve the D-H contract, although Sununu previously had been a vocal critic of the bidding process and of D-H’s refusal to offer jobs to all the previous professional staff members.

In his statement, Folks urged “state officials to support the long-term relationship between (New Hampshire Hospital) and the Department of Psychiatry of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.”

The new contract takes effect on Oct. 1. Currently, psychiatric services at New Hampshire Hospital are being provided through a four-month contract that was awarded to Dartmouth and assigned to D-H.

As CMO, Folks is obligated to be physically present at New Hampshire Hospital for at least 36 hours per week.

D-H’s contract gives it 10 days after a CMO’s departure to install an interim CMO.

Meyers said his department and leaders at New Hampshire Hospital would “work closely with Dartmouth-Hitchcock on a transition plan to ensure” that the quality of patient care would not be affected by Folks’ departure and that a new CMO would be in place prior to his exit.

Rick Jurgens can be reached at 603-727-3229.

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