The problems are complex at Riverview Psychiatric Center, which has lost accreditation and $20 million a year in federal funding. But some of the solutions are straightforward.

There is high employee turnover at the hospital, leading to chronic staff shortages and forced overtime shifts for the workers who remain. It’s easy to understand why — these workers are grossly underpaid, with wages starting at $11.91 an hour.

A hospital working with a short staff makes for a more dangerous work environment and leaves less opportunity for effective treatment. Workers on forced overtime are likely to be less tolerant and more prone to making mistakes.

In the last hours of the legislative session, lawmakers passed an emergency bill that would raise the pay of mental health workers and nurses at Riverview and the Dorothea Dix hospital in Bangor, in an effort to stabilize the staffing situation, giving $2-per-hour raises to direct care workers and $4 per hour more for nurses. It received strong bipartisan majorities in both houses and was sent to the governor’s desk.

But, as with so many worthy pieces of legislation, Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed the bill, and it is anybody’s guess whether Republican lawmakers will stick by their earlier votes or cave in to the pressure and vote the governor’s way.

The Department of Health and Human Services opposed the bill, saying that the raises are unnecessary and the recruitment problem has been fixed, but DHHS lacks credibility when it comes to assessing the problems at Riverview. Ever since the hospital was cited for using stun guns, pepper spray and handcuffs to manage difficult patients, DHHS has failed to convince federal regulators that Riverview has gotten a handle on its problems.

We put more stock in the analysis of retired Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, who is charged with overseeing a court order that protects the interests of patients in the mental health system. He wrote in a progress report filed Feb. 8 that staff turnover at Riverview is a serious problem.

“At present the hospital is experiencing significant turnover in the psychiatric and nursing staff, thereby limiting the opportunities for continuity of care and the establishment of trusting relationships,” he wrote. “The most critical issue at present is the need to fill serious staff vacancies that exist in the ranks of direct care workers.”

Lawmakers will have to ask themselves whether they can believe the promises of administrators who have repeatedly failed to deliver. Staff shortages have put patients and employees at risk. It’s past time to address these problems, rather than waiting for them to solve themselves.