For five years, the LePage administration has tried unsuccessfully to fix the problems at the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center all by itself.

Even now, with its proposed solution — a new residential center to be built in Bangor — not expected to come online until after Gov. Paul LePage has left office, the administration is turning away input and oversight.

As a result, the next governor and Legislature will inherit a half-implemented plan created in secrecy and largely without the help of lawmakers, treatment providers, patients or patient advocates.

As planned, the new facility will open in March. It will house patients who no longer need the hospital-level care provided by Riverview, thus opening much-needed space at the Augusta psychiatric center.

There has been general agreement among policymakers that such a “step-down” residence is necessary. Riverview has been operating without its federal certification since 2013, when news reports and a federal audit revealed a series of serious deficiencies in how the hospital was being operated. A second, less-intensive facility would relieve some of the stressors at Riverview, and lead to improved care for patients.

LePage’s efforts to build such a facility have been hindered by his own unwillingness to collaborate or compromise, and the scattershot tendecies of his administration.


LePage has offered incomplete plans, then reacted angrily when asked to fill in the details. He has refused to consider the concerns of lawmakers who will oversee and fund the facility once it is operating. He has screamed about the urgent need for a new building, then failed to act on it for months at a time.

The governor’s failures have gotten us to this point. After refusing to answer legislators’ valid questions over his plan for a step-down facility in Augusta, LePage took to the proposal to Bangor, where in his estimation — though not the attorney general’s — he can build it without legislative oversight.

Keeping with that theme, the governor isn’t answering questions from the media on the project.

The company selected to operate the new facility, Florida-based Correct Care Solutions isn’t either — a copy of its 2017 proposal obtained by the Associated Press through a open records request was redacted at the company’s request. Blacked out were a list of current and closed lawsuits filed against Correct Care, as well as details on staffing, costs and operations.

That’s no small matter. The rapidly growing for-profit treatment industry in general, and Correct Care specifically, have been under scrutiny for a series of incidents in which profit motivation seemed to have won out over patient care, leading to injuries and poor treatment.

The redacted portions of the proposal may contain suitable answers to the many questions raised by patients, advocates and lawmakers, but we don’t know because we can’t see them, and it’s hard to trust the LePage administration when they’ve been so opaque, on this issue and many others.

All of which raises the question of why the governor is trying to shoehorn this project through in his final months, particularly when the new building is set to open weeks after his successor is sworn in. No new building should be constructed until a new governor and Legislature have an opportunity to review the plans.

Gov. LePage tried and failed to fix this problem on his own. Now it’s time to let others do the work.

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