Paul LePage threatens to sue Bangor over psychiatric facility

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Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday threatened to sue Bangor over his proposed psychiatric facility, which he said could be built in a neighboring community.

Two days after the Bangor City Council voted to enact a six-month moratorium to delay the Hogan Road project, the governor said he plans to sue the city under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, according to WLBZ-TV.

LePage also told the station that his administration is considering putting the facility in a neighboring town, which a spokesman reiterated.

“The governor said the facility can be built anywhere,” Peter Steele, director of communications for LePage, said Wednesday. “If Bangor doesn’t want it, then it can be built in one of the surrounding communities. But it would be best to build the facility close to the Bangor area so it is accessible to northern Maine.”

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Joe Baldacci, Bangor City Council chairman, said the city will keep in place the moratorium, which officials plan to use to study the issue.

“We are sticking with our original plan,” he said. “But I hold out hope that the governor is slowly getting our message and will follow up with his now twice repeated statement of looking at other communities.”

City officials have not received notice of a lawsuit from the governor, he added.

LePage’s plan is to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility near Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, and would house patients found not responsible for crimes they have committed or who are unfit to stand trial. The patients would have permission to leave the facility on occasion.

The state, meanwhile, continues to move forward on the project by selecting a Nashville, Tennessee, company to run the facility.

Correct Care Recovery Solutions, which was the only bidder, provides healthcare to U.S. prisons in 38 different states, including in Maine. CCS began providing health care services to the Maine Department of Corrections in July of 2012.

In August, the state selected Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield to build the 8,300-square-foot rehabilitation facility on state-owned property on Hogan Road beside the Elizabeth Levinson Center.

The new psych center would serve patients who have been in Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center or Dorothea Dix patients but who “no longer meet medical necessity for acute psychiatric hospitalization” and who already have permission from the court to leave the hospitals on occasion, according to the request for proposals for operators that has a Sept. 13 deadline.

The LePage administration has said the new facility would alleviate overcrowding at Augusta’s troubled Riverview Psychiatric Center, which lost its federal accreditation in 2013 because of overcrowding and inadequate staffing and for using handcuffs and stun guns to subdue violent patients. State officials were recently notified that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is recalling $51 million in payments made to Maine since decertification.

Gov. Paul LePage

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