Because Maine’s media outlets continue to politicize treatment and recovery issues at Riverview Psychiatric Center, I feel compelled to respond.

Since 1989, the Disability Rights Center has been engaged in a class-action lawsuit against the state of Maine in response to the abuse and lack of treatment that occurred at Augusta Mental Health Institute, now Riverview. Since 2006, the Disability Rights Center has employed two patient advocates at Riverview who advocate for patient rights daily. We are well aware of the conditions there.

Recent press reports rely on incidents that occurred under the prior administration. They fail to acknowledge that Jay Harper was appointed just six months ago and is charged with overhauling an institution that floundered for years before being decertified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Harper has made significant improvements since he has been at Riverview. The numbers show that psychiatric emergencies, incidences of seclusion and restraint, and calls to the police for criminal action have all been reduced. Now that’s Maine news.

To suggest that Harper has bought into the existing culture at Riverview is ludicrous and offensive. A lifelong advocate, he was also fully inculcated in the Disability Rights Center culture of advocacy.

Perhaps the legislators who called for another expensive investigation will recall Harper’s appearances before them in desperate attempts to draw attention to the problems at Riverview. He felt so strongly that Riverview needed the Legislature’s attention that he even failed to get my permission before testifying before the Appropriations Committee. Now he is addressing those problems himself, head-on. He is turning around a facility that had forgotten that patient engagement and recovery are essential in providing optimal patient care and creating a safe environment. His priorities are right on and he can do this job. We should let him.

Kim Moody is executive director of the Disability Rights Center in Augusta.

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