DHHS addresses assaults at residential treatment facility, denounces media

Mar. 18—A youth involved in a series of assaults at a residential treatment facility in Hampstead was relocated to an out-of-state hospital for specialized care on Monday.

Last week, police and fire responded to the Hampstead Hospital and Residential Treatment Facility to assist staff with two patients who "exhibited assaultive behavior" toward staff, according to a news release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Over the weekend, police again responded when one of those two patients attacked and injured two staff members, officials said.

The youth was relocated to receive "specialized, trauma-informed clinical treatment better suited to the patient's specific needs."

"Contrary to reports to the media, these staff are recovering well and we are fully supporting them as they do so," the news release stated. They issued the news release to "provide information to the people of New Hampshire in light of recent media coverage."

On Sunday, WMUR reported that one staff member was left unconscious after they were punched dozens of times by a patient while another suffered a head injury. In another incident, they reported that staffers "were dragged by their hair, and others had their eyeglasses broken."

The news release praised clinicians, staff and administrators for their continuous safe and quality care to very complex and acute patients at the psychiatric treatment facility.

"While escalated behaviors are not uncommon in facilities that serve youth with the most acute needs, it is not easy work," the news release said. "The situation at Hampstead is not out of the ordinary, as all states are seeing a high acuity of behavioral health needs among our youth. Any facility serving youth prepares for unusual circumstances that occasionally arise that exceed the abilities of the facility staff to independently handle."

Hampstead Hospital and Residential Treatment Facility is the only facility in New Hampshire that treats youth with the most complex and acute behavioral health issues.