Press Releases


Entries in NH DHHS (607)


NH DHHS - Four Critical Access Hospitals in New Hampshire Honored for Quality

Concord, NH – The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) recently

announced its annual ranking of critical access hospitals in the country

and four in New Hampshire were honored; Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro,

Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, and The Memorial Hospital in North

Conway were named Top Critical Access Hospitals and Cottage Hospital in

Woodsville was recognized for Best Practice in Quality. The top 20 critical

access hospitals are named annually as well as 20 in each separate category

of quality, patient satisfaction and financial stability.

“The Department of Health and Human Services is very pleased to recognize

the good work of these hospitals in serving their communities,” said Dr.

José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “Our public health

partners work tirelessly every day to serve the needs of the people of New

Hampshire so it is great to see some of their efforts recognized.

Congratulations to Huggins, Speare, Memorial and Cottage for a job well


The rankings are determined through data analysis by iVantage Health

Analytics and the determining factors for the top 20 critical access

hospitals were based on ten indices of strength including competitive

strength, competitive intensity, market size and growth, population risk,

cost, charge, quality, outcomes, patient perspectives, and financial

stability. The data gathered is also distributed to the hospitals NHRA

serves to help them better their practices.

All the hospitals will be formally recognized during NRHA’s Critical Access

Hospital Conference in October. To read more information, visit or the NH Department of Health and Human Services at


NH DHHS - NH Launches Training to Improve Response to Individuals in Distress

First Group of 30 Receive Certification as Mental Health

First Aid Instructors

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS), Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) has launched a training that will

provide valuable skills to potential first responders and community members

in how to help individuals experiencing mental illness or addiction

disorders. The Training, called Mental Health First Aid, is funded through

DHHS’ Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) and is a collaborative effort

between DHHS and the NH Community Behavioral Health Association.

“There is no issue that crosses sectors and boundaries in the way that

Mental Illness does,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This

Training program will help develop new skills at the local level. We view

this as an integral part of a revitalized continuum of care in our service

delivery systems addressing the needs of individuals facing mental health


Thirty people from across the State were certified as mental health first

aid instructors. These instructors will be required to share their

knowledge and skills within their community, and must provide 3 trainings

within a year to remain certified.

“The Goal is to get these skills out in the community where they are most

needed,” said Nanci Collica, one of the first certified Mental Health First

Aid Trainers in New Hampshire. “My own son has had many experiences where

we could have used someone who knew better what to do. The fact that these

skills can be applied anytime, anywhere, by anyone is what makes them so


The training offers evidence based instruction on identifying symptoms of

mental illness and substance disorders, de-escalating crisis and connecting

individuals to resources in their community. “It’s fun, simple, yet

provides great tools for handling a situation where someone is in crisis”

says Collica.

The Balancing Incentive Program is an award through the Centers of Medicaid

and Medicare Services. The purpose of this program is to increase access to

and use of long-term care services and supports in community settings. In

partnership with community organizations throughout the state, these

services and supports will allow more people to remain in their homes and

communities rather than in nursing homes.


NH DHHS Identifies First Cases of Chikungunya in the Granite State

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) is announcing two cases of chikungunya in people who traveled to the

Caribbean. These are the first identified cases in New Hampshire of the

virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and found in many countries, though

most recently in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Currently

there is no concern of local transmission of this virus in New Hampshire

because the types of mosquitoes that carry the virus have not been

identified in this area.

The chikungunya virus was first identified in Tanzania in 1952. It spread

by mosquitoes to the Americas where it was first identified on the island

of St. Martin in 2013. The most common symptoms of chikungunya infection

are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain,

joint swelling, and rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa,

Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There is no vaccine

against chikungunya and no specific treatment at this time. Chikungunya

rarely results in death but the symptoms can sometimes be severe and

debilitating. The incubation period is generally 2–7 days but can be as

long as two weeks.

“While this is our first announcement of this virus,” said DHHS Public

Health Director Dr. José Montero, “unfortunately it probably won’t be the

last. This disease and the mosquitoes that carry it are spreading. We want

to urge people who are traveling to areas where this virus now exists to

take the same precautions when outdoors that they would here to prevent

being bitten by mosquitoes, namely wear an effective insect repellent, long

sleeves, and pants. In some countries a bed net might be advisable if

screens are not available.”

People who have symptoms of chikunguyna and have recently traveled to a

country where chikungunya is spread by mosquitoes should contact their

healthcare provider. For more information about chikungunya, visit the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at  or

the DHHS website at


NH DHHS - Food Safety Tips for the Summer Season

Concord, NH – During this busy summer season of trips to the beach,

vacations, and cookouts, the Department of Health and Human

Services’ (DHHS) Food Protection Section wants to remind everyone to follow

some important food safety practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as

Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

There are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne disease, 128,000

hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States.

“Food is an important part of vacation and holiday gatherings but it needs

to be handled safely, especially during the warmer weather,” said Dr. José

Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “The basic rule is keep hot

foods hot and cold foods cold. It may be common sense, but it should never

be overlooked. Just like hand washing, the more we practice it the more

routine it becomes and the safer we all will be.”

A DHHS video on summer grilling food safety is available on YouTube at There are some simple

precautions everyone should always take to reduce the possibility of

becoming sick when preparing food, which include:

Separate: Use a separate cutting board for cooked foods and raw foods

(especially meat) and always wash them after use. Avoid cross

contamination. Wash any utensil after preparing one food item before

going on to the next item.

Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and

surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.

Cook: Pork, lamb, veal, and whole cuts of beef should be cooked to 145

°F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of

the meat, followed by a three-minute rest time before carving or

consuming. Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160 °F. All

poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be

cooked to 145 °F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should be grilled

to 165 °F or until steaming hot.

Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. One hour if it

is a hot day over

90ºF. The refrigerator should be maintained at 40ºF or lower and the

freezer should be at 0ºF or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140ºF or

hotter, and cold foods cold, 40ºF or below. Never defrost food at

room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water

bath, or in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be

cooked immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to the NH Department of

Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from

concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public

health official calls you to talk about an outbreak, your cooperation

is important, even if you are not ill.

For more information visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture at  or

, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at , the

DHHS website at , or .


NH DHHS - Mosquito Season Has Begun and New Hampshire Residents Are Encouraged to Take Precautions against Diseases 

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is encouraging residents

and visitors to the State to take precautions against mosquito bites this

season to prevent West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE),

and other mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquitoes are already out and the most

likely time for them to spread disease is June through September.

During the 2013 season, 24 batches of mosquitoes tested positive for EEE

and 14 batches tested positive for WNV. Three horses tested positive for

EEE and one for WNV. There was also a human case of WNV but no EEE cases.

“Though the numbers of human infections for West Nile Virus and EEE have

been low for the past couple of years, unfortunately we can never predict

from year to year how prevalent these diseases are going to be,” said Dr.

José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “The weather from year to

year plays a role, but it is important that residents take the appropriate

precautions every year, most importantly using an insect repellent, to

avoid becoming infected by one of these diseases.”

Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus are transmitted through the

bite of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an

infected bird. EEE is a serious disease that carries a high mortality rate

for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness.

Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, and a sore throat. A

stiff neck is also a symptom of the severe form of the disease, which can

lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur 4 to 10 days after

someone is bitten.

For individuals who are bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus, the

risk of contracting the infection is low and, in the overwhelming majority

of cases, there are no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms. At times,

West Nile Virus can cause meningitis and can be a serious threat to

seniors, young children, and those with compromised immune systems. If

illness does occur, it typically happens within 3 to 15 days after being

bitten by an infected mosquito.

Precautionary steps everyone should take to prevent being bitten by

mosquitoes include:

· Using an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon

eucalyptus, or IR3535 against mosquitoes

· Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors when mosquitoes

are biting

· Make sure to remove standing water around your home where mosquitoes

can breed, such as in tires, flower pots, or pool covers

· Make sure screens on windows and doors fit tightly and do not have


· Monitor yourself if you are bitten by mosquitoes and tell your

healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of WNV or EEE

For more information about WNV, EEE, or other mosquito-borne diseases,

visit the DHHS website at , the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention website at , or call the DHHS Bureau of

Infectious Disease Control at 1-800-852-3345 x4496.