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NH health care providers say they need more federal help

Increased demand for testing as schools reopen could stress system


New Hampshire health care providers are warning that their system, which has already been financially taxed, needs a lifeline as schools reopen.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down and elective surgeries are up in New Hampshire, but during a video call with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on Wednesday, health care providers said they need more federal funding.

"(Personal protective gear) remains a concern," said Dr. Apara Dave. "At least at our institution, gowns are the new N95s, so to speak, in terms of what we anticipate we may run into trouble with moving into the fall."

As schools and day cares reopen, pediatricians warned there is a lack of testing available for children.

"As children go back to school and these recommendations are made for so many kids to get tested, we are running into a problem permitting those children to be tested," said Dr. Christine Arsnow, of Concord Pediatrics.

Doctors said they are seeing a surge in issues that persisted long before the pandemic, including drug abuse and mental health issues.

"A lot of those people might have decompensation and their symptoms are worsening and they're in the midst of a mental health crisis but don't feel like they can take the risk of coming in to see their psychiatrist or coming to the (emergency department) to seek the emergency health care that they need," said Dr. Patrick Ho, of the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society.

Shaheen said she believes Congress will reach an agreement for additional funding to help address health needs beyond the pandemic.

"How do we get that supply chain back and produced in the United States, and hopefully we do some thinking around that," she said. "The other is how do we resolve the inequities in health care coverage?"