August 21, 2013

Report details problems at Maine psychiatric facility

Abuse of the hospital's patients has put federal funds for the state mental hospital in jeopardy.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

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This aerial photo taken on Tuesday April 30, 2013 shows The Riverview Psychiatric Center on banks of Kennbec River in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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The Riverview Psychiatric Center

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Another patient, identified as Patient B, was handcuffed following an incident May 7 during which the patient allegedly kicked a hole in the bathroom wall. The patient was twice able to get out of five-point restraints "and attempted to assault staff." The nurse who documented the incident told the team "she supported the use of handcuffs in this highly assaultive patient."

The report also faults Riverview with failing to meet standards for patient rights involving restraint or seclusion.

Former Chief Justice Daniel Wathen oversees a long-standing consent decree that settled a lawsuit by mental health advocates that holds the state mental health system to agreed-upon standards of care. Wathen had referenced "two serious security situations on the Lower Saco Unit" in his most recent report issued last month.

"One incident involved a client assaulting a member of the staff and the second involved jeopardy to the health and safety of patients arising from the actions of correctional officers providing unit security," Wathen wrote in a report.

In his report, Wathen foreshadowed the funding threat Riverview now faces. He noted that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services "has an effective remedy for correcting deficiencies, it has both the authority and the intention to suspend payment for Medicare services unless the deficiencies are addressed to its satisfaction."

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

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