May 19, 2013

Recent attack underscores Riverview safety concerns

Staffers at the state's only hospital for criminals say getting hurt on the job shouldn't be the expectation.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

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McEwen said she believes staff levels at Riverview are sufficient. There are 270 staff members for 92 patients in the main hospital.

"I think we're very richly staffed with a good variety of disciplines," she said.

Even so, the superintendent said recruiting registered nurses for the hospital can be challenging. Many choose better-paying jobs at nearby MaineGeneral Medical Center and the Maine VA Healthcare Systems-Togus hospital, both in Augusta.

One person who questions whether Riverview has enough staff is longtime patient Beauchene, who has been in the state hospital or in prison since 1972. He escaped twice from Riverview's predecessor, AMHI, and spent 15 years in prison for rapes committed in New York after his second escape. He was returned to the hospital in 1998 and is pretty sure he's never going to get out.

In a recent phone interview from Riverview, Beauchene said he was another victim of Murphy.

"He sucker-punched me one day and knocked my glasses off," Beauchene said. "He hit me one time and then he sat down."

Beauchene said patients have to pitch in because staffing at Riverview to help calm volatile situations isn't adequate.

"It is my belief if female staff were attacked, at least half the clients would help her. We have good staff here. In our minds, males can take care of themselves, but we would help," he said.

Perry, the union rep, said she's encouraged by the hospital administration's response to Murphy's attack in March.

"Working together as a team, we can fix what is broken," she said.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:


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