August 23, 2013

Maine bill may expand to address Riverview funding

The state psychiatric hospital could lose $20 million in federal money if problems aren't fixed.

By Michael Shepherd
State House Bureau

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Riverview Psychiatric Center is located on the east side of Augusta.

Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal

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Mark P. Murphy, 47, formerly of York County, is one of them. He pleaded not criminally responsible to charges of elevated aggravated assault on a mental health worker at Riverview Psychiatric Center in March. He has been in DHHS custody for seven years.

A report to Kennebec County Superior Court by Riverview in April 2007 said within six weeks of Murphy's arrival at the hospital, "he had committed three assaults on staff members, the third assault was nearly fatal." Court records show the hospital reported that Murphy also assaulted a patient with a fork in 2007.

Kristina LaChance, a patient advocate for the Disability Rights Center, told the committee that as written, the bill would "give the hospital more latitude to, then, move back towards the recovery model and rehabilitation rather than focusing on this direction that they've gone with containment."

Former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, who oversees a consent decree that holds the state mental health system to agreed-upon standards of care, said the Legislature should work on L.D. 1515 as part of a long-term solution.

"I don't know that it has a whole lot to do with the current dilemma with CMS, but it is part of the atmosphere," he said.

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:

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