AUGUSTA — A man shot by police Monday after allegedly threatening an officer with a knife was in the care of a program created specifically to help those with the most severe and persistent mental illness live in the community.

Jason Begin was under the care of a Riverview Psychiatric Center outpatient services team, which is composed of a group of diverse of specialists who work together to help those who no longer need to be hospitalized but are unable to follow the path of many Riverview patients who ease back into the community with traditional counseling services.

Begin, 36, was shot in the offices of the outpatient clinic run by Riverview’s outpatient services team in the Ballard Center, which is the former MaineGeneral Medical Center building on the city’s east side. Until last year, the outpatient team was a functioning assertive community treatment team, also known as ACT.

‘PRETTY EXTENSIVE STEP-DOWN’

David Sorensen, spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said the group transitioned to an outpatient team last year because it was unable to meet the strict federal standards for an ACT team.

Sorensen said Riverview’s outpatient services team “is an alternative that fits our unique needs at Riverview and is fully staffed with the necessary specialists.”

Riverview’s outpatient team provides much the same services as an ACT team, which Jenna Mehnert, executive director of NAMI Maine, said is designed to help people who no longer need hospital-level care but need extra support to transition into the community.

“Over the years, at Riverview and at Dorothea Dix (Psychiatric Center in Bangor), there have been people who are ready to leave, but not to say goodbye,” Mehnert said. “It’s the concept of a pretty extensive step-down.”

Riverview’s outpatient services team was thrust into the spotlight after the incident involving Begin, who continued to be treated Friday at MaineGeneral Medical Center, where he was listed in “undetermined” condition. City Manager William Bridgeo, while briefing city councilors on the incident during Thursday’s council meeting, said Begin is expected to recover.

Augusta police Officer Laura Drouin, who reportedly shot Begin when he threatened her and others with a knife, is on paid leave from the department while the Office of the Maine Attorney General investigates the shooting. The paid leave and the attorney general’s investigation are standard procedures in shootings involving law enforcement officers.

The outpatient services team, like the assertive community treatment, or ACT teams, uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to provide intensive services.

MULTIPLE SPECIALISTS

Simonne M. Maline, executive director of the Consumer Council System of Maine, a consumer advocacy group established by state lawmakers, said every ACT team is supposed to include at least seven specialists, including case managers, clinical supervisors, vocational specialists, substance abuse specialists, a psychiatrist, a psychiatric nurse and a peer specialist.

Mehnert said the team is directed by a team leader and a psychiatrist and includes a sufficient number of staff members for the core mental-health disciplines, at least one peer specialist, and support staffers who work in shifts to cover 24 hours per day, seven days a week to provide intensive services.

Court documents indicate Begin was assigned to an ACT team since at least October 2013. Patients such as Begin, who are committed involuntarily to Riverview or Dorothea Dix and meet certain criteria, can be included in a progressive treatment program that includes an assignment to the care of an ACT team. If that person has participated in the services as ordered by the courts and becomes more stable in his or her community, the program ends.

Drouin was called to help take Begin back to Riverview, which could have ended his treatment program and his ability to return to the community without first petitioning the court.

Sorensen said Riverview’s outpatient services team is in the process of leaving the Ballard Center; but Kevin Mattson, who owns the building, said the process of renovating the hospital into office space is ongoing. Part of the improvements will be the addition of security, Mattson said, but he said Monday’s shooting does not suggest the building is unsafe.