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Maine Committee Orders Riverview Investigation

Mal Leary

AUGUSTA, Maine - Persistent problems at the Riverview Psychiatric Center have prompted a legislative government watchdog panel to direct staff to investigate the facility.

State Sen. Roger Katz, an Augusta Republican, says he did not learn about a serious incident that took place at the facility last December until last week. It involved a corrections officer assigned to provide security at the center who sprayed a naked patient with pepper spray and then held her in restraints for hours.

Still, Katz says he frequently hears from the center's administrators, and staff at the state Department of Health and Human Services say that things are actually better at the facility than they were a year ago.

"But then, on the other side, you hear from 10 or more people who worked there, or who recently worked there, who said that maybe things are getting a little better - but not much," Katz said. "And there's still major problems there - and I think we've got a role in trying to sort that out."

The Government Oversight Committee voted unanimously to authorize the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability to conduct a priority investigation of the facility.