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Some of Maine’s most vulnerable residents are in danger, and we need to act quickly before someone gets hurt. Our administration proposed a solution to this situation back in May, and we cannot delay any longer .

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

The Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta may lose its certification and federal funding because the management of patients who exhibit criminal behaviors must be more consistent with the process used in a correctional setting. But that is not allowed by federal hospital certification standards.

These patients come to Riverview through the corrections system, and they can pose a serious risk for physically harming themselves or others because of their mental illness.

Riverview is not authorized to implement the security measures or to employ the trained correctional personnel that are necessary to prevent serious physical harm by these patients. This spring, a staff member was seriously injured in an attack by one of the patients. Federal regulations for Riverview are not designed for managing this population of patients.

That’s why our Administration sounded the alarm about this situation. Back in May, we submitted a bill to create a facility within the Department of Corrections that has the trained staff and capacity to handle these patients.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recognized the urgency of this matter and unanimously endorsed the bill. In fact, it was their top priority. But the Appropriations Committee failed to allocate 3-million-dollars for the facility. Instead, they chose to increase welfare to Maine communities.

We all say we want to care for our most vulnerable citizens, but actions speak louder than words. Quite simply, the time to address this unsafe situation is now.

Our first concern is for the safety of the patients and our staff. We want to assure these patients, their families and Riverview employees that our Administration is working toward a resolution, and we request the Legislature to act swiftly.

We must create a mental health unit that will provide care for those in our jails who need mental health treatment. This will create a safer environment at Riverview, and it will allow the staff to serve the patients that the hospital is authorized to help.

This is a dangerous situation that needs to be resolved immediately. Protecting our patients and our staff should not a partisan issue. It is the right thing to do.

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