Folks to leave NH Hospital in Jan.

by Seamus Walsh | 9/29/16 1:01am

Geisel School of Medicine psychiatry professor David Folks, who has also served as the Chief Medical Officer of New Hampshire Hospital — the state-run psychiatric hospital — for the past eight years, will step down from both posts in January.

Folks will assume the role of Chief Medical Officer at Pine Rest, a mental health system associated with Michigan State University, where he will also teach psychiatry.

Looking back on his tenure, Folks said he is most proud of the hospital’s improvement in evidence-based care for people with severe and persistent medical needs, the enhancement of services for adolescents and older adults and the development of new ways for treating people dealing with both addiction and other mental illnesses.

In 2008, Folks moved to New Hampshire to balance a full-time job at the hospital with a teaching position at Dartmouth. The New Hampshire Hospital takes on patients with mental health issues that other hospitals in the area consider “too hot to handle,” he said.

The greatest lesson Folks learned while in New Hampshire was the importance of patient care.

“People here involved in the mental health field in New Hampshire and Dartmouth really care about the people they take care of,” Folks said. “Compassion and quality of care here is second to none.”

The challenge surrounding mental health, Folks said, is the recogniztion that mental health is tied to general health. There must be mental health services that are accessible, available, affordable and accountable for everyone, he added.

“Of course that takes resources, but you also have to have champions in the community that understand the value of taking care of people’s mental wellbeing.”