Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital Aims To Shorten Hospital Stays For Patients Needing Guardians

What happens when a patient is medically ready to leave a hospital, but is not mentally capable of making decisions?

Ideally, they have designated a proxy or guardian to help guide the way. But if they haven’t, finding a legal guardian can take weeks or months, while the patient is taking up bed space needed by others.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is trying to streamline that process.

Jasper Chen is a resident psychiatrist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and also part of an allied residency program to improve health care delivery.

When he got to Dartmouth, he noticed that a handful of patients were lingering in the hospital long after their medical procedures were finished.

Some have brain injuries, or Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Others have psychiatric conditions that make living alone unsafe—but lack family members able to care for them after they leave the hospital.

“They have actually completed their acute medical care and they are waiting for the next disposition to happen, waiting for the court to appoint a guardian so they can move onto the rehabilitation facility or the skilled nursing facility,” Chen explained.

But that legal red tape can take time to cut. So Chen and others are trying to speed up the guardian search—and free up beds.

[H]ospital’s risk manager, Jim Gregoire, reported that New Hampshire probate judges are starting to streamline the guardianship process.

“They allow us to have either telephone testimony or live video testimony so we don’t have to have the doctors often traveling an hour each way to court,” Gregoire said.

Dartmouth Hitchcock Aims To Shorten Hospital Stays For Patients Needing Guardians


3 Responses to “Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital Aims To Shorten Hospital Stays For Patients Needing Guardians”

  1. Monty Says:

    Hospitals have NO business in guardianship matters. This is not a good thing at all.

  2. Norma Says:

    Obviously Jasper Chen doesn't know about the dark side of guardianship or he wouldn't be smiling.

  3. Thelma Says:

    Why not create a new position – Rubberstamper – no due process due!

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