AUGUSTA — Workers at Riverview Psychiatric Center are being asked to share their concerns about the operation of the state facility with members of Augusta’s legislative delegation.

Riverview, which houses people committed through the state’s criminal and civil system, has been the scene of a number of assaults by patients on staff members. Patients also have been convicted of damaging hospital property.

The delegation, in an announcement sent out through the Senate Majority Office, said the forum is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Randall Student Fireside Lounge on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta. The purpose of the forum is to listen to staff concerns and perspectives about the operation of the state psychiatric facility.

“There is a fair amount of conflicting information out there about staffing problems,” Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said in the news release. “My colleagues and I want to hear directly from employees about what is happening inside the walls. Do employees feel safe? Has security for patients and staff improved? Are workers getting adequate training? How bad is the situation around mandated overtime? These are all questions we are hoping to get answered.”

Other members of the Augusta delegation participating in the meeting are Republican Rep. Matt Pouliot, Democratic Rep. Donna Doore and Democratic Rep. Lori Fowle, who represents part of Augusta as well as all of Vassalboro.

“We are hoping that many Riverview employees will turn out and give us their candid perspectives,” Katz said in the announcement. “We all have the same goal: a facility which provides excellent treatment for its clients and a safe and rewarding work environment for our dedicated employees. The more information we have, the better we — as policymakers — are able to do our jobs. We intend to share the information we gather with Commissioner (Mary) Mayhew and the legislative committees of jurisdiction.”

Riverview is running ads for a number of positions at the hospital, including nurses, mental health rehabilitation technicians/certified nursing aides and acuity specialists.

The acuity specialists are workers specially trained to handle patients with a history of dangerousness.

Last February the Department of Health and Human Services asked the Legislature for more money to create 30 new posts at the hospital. That was in an effort to regain certification by federal regulators and resumption of about $20 million in federal funding annually. Neither the certification nor the funding has been regained, and 12 of the acuity specialist posts were not funded.

At that time, figures presented to a legislative committee showed that 199 workers at Riverview had been injured in 2014.

Riverview workers have complained about inadequate staffing and mandatory overtime.


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