AUGUSTA — Maine’s Riverview Psychiatric Center, which lost millions of dollars in federal money beginning last fall and has yet to qualify for funding restoration, has a new sign that tweaks its name: Riverview Psychiatric Recovery Center.
“The sign change reflects the new culture of recovery and excellence that is being built at the hospital,” said John Martins, spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, via email. “It helps to strengthen the focus on recovery.”
The sign appeared last week in front of the hospital on the grounds of the former Augusta Mental Health Institute on Hospital Street on the east side of Augusta.
Martins said Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper requested the sign change and it was approved by department Commissioner Mary Mayhew. Lawmakers who serve on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee say they were not aware of the change.
The sign change did not sit well with some current and former Democratic legislators.
Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, who co-chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, said she has many concerns about Riverview.
“I am very frustrated with the administration,” Craven said Tuesday after hearing about the sign change. “They pay more attention to signs than to treatment of people. They have not been able to meet the CMS requirements for us to receive the dollars, so we’re losing $20 million a year because the institution and administration refuse to comply with requirements.”
CMS, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, withdrew certification for the 92-bed hospital in September, making it ineligible for federal money following disclosures that sheriff’s deputies used stun guns and handcuffs to control unruly patients. Federal regulators in June refused to recertify the hospital as a 72-bed facility, citing unreported medication errors and record-keeping failures, as well as failure to adopt treatment plans, suggesting even deeper problems than were previously revealed at the state mental hospital.
Martins wrote that Riverview Psychiatric Center will continue to be the official name of the hospital, and that DHHS has not “changed any documentation with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services” or another accreditation group called the Joint Commission.