Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew will not have to appear before a judge at a contempt hearing Tuesday, after agreeing to comply with court orders to admit two inmates to a state mental hospital.

Justice Paul Fritzsche on Monday postponed the contempt hearing in York County Superior Court in Alfred to allow Mayhew’s staff up to 10 days to admit the second of the two inmates to the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

The first inmate, Michael Whitten, was admitted to the hospital April 30 after his attorney, Amy Fairfield, had subpoenas issued to both Mayhew and Jay Harper, Riverview’s superintendent. Fairfield called for them to testify at the emergency contempt hearing for failing to admit the jailed man as Fritzsche had ordered after the man was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.

“File a motion for contempt and your client gets in,” Fairfield said by phone Monday afternoon.

DHHS spokesman David Sorensen did not respond to an email Monday about the scheduled court appearances for Mayhew and Harper.

Fairfield had sought the emergency contempt hearing in Whitten’s case and for another of her jailed clients who was deemed incompetent, John Day.

DHHS is struggling to adequately fund and staff Riverview, one of two inpatient mental health hospitals operated by the state. The other, the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor, serves northern areas of Maine.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified Riverview in 2013 that it no longer met federal standards after deficiencies were discovered, including use of Tasers on patients, improper record-keeping and poor treatment plans.

With the loss of certification, Riverview lost its eligibility for $20 million in annual federal funding. Maine officials have said the state has continued to receive the funding since then, but federal Medicare officials have said repeatedly that the state will have to repay that money unless it can convince a court that Riverview shouldn’t have lost its certification in the first place.

All of the state’s appeals of the hospital’s decertification have been denied so far, and there is no timetable for Riverview to be recertified. More appeals are pending.

Mayhew has said Riverview will struggle to get recertified as long as a significant percentage of its patients has been referred to the hospital from the criminal court system. In the past, about half of the hospital’s 92-bed capacity was filled by patients from the criminal system and half from involuntary or voluntary civil commitments. It is unclear whether that is still the case.

Fairfield said that in seeking the contempt hearing, she learned that Riverview had vacant beds for both Whitten and Day, but willfully ignored a court order that the troubled men be committed to the mental hospital for care and treatment.

Whitten, 24, of Sanford, is accused in two pending criminal cases – a theft charge and another charge of breaking into a car. He has been jailed since Jan. 7.

Day, 35, of Kennebunk, is accused in four pending criminal misdemeanor cases, including a domestic violence case and another for violating the conditions of his release. He has been jailed since Nov. 18.

Attorneys for Mayhew and Harper had filed court objections to Fairfield’s motions for contempt, with signed written statements from Mayhew and Harper.

Mayhew said in her affidavit that she does not make decisions about Riverview admissions, although she is aware of the legal process.

“I typically have no personal involvement in determining placement in an appropriate program for an individual determined (incompetent to stand trial) and committed to my custody. That function is performed by the superintendent of Riverview Psychiatric Center,” Mayhew wrote.

Harper said in his affidavit that Riverview had to delay admitting patients from the criminal court system because of a shortage of staff and a wait list of others ordered to the hospital even though some beds were available.

“After first taking the exceptional step of mandating staff overtime in an effort to compensate for the shortage, I ultimately determined the hospital could no longer safely maintain a full-patient census,” Harper wrote. “I made the decision, in consultation with the clinical director, to curtail admissions of both forensic and civil commitments until the patient population and available staff stabilized. This stabilization was achieved during the second week of April and normal admissions procedures were reintroduced.”