AUGUSTA (AP) – The state’s new $33 million psychiatric hospital can open this fall as the Riverview Psychiatric Center, Attorney General Steven Rowe said Tuesday.

Rowe said legislators may want to resolve ambiguities left in the state’s law books when they named the new hospital in a resolve, rather than a statute, thereby leaving references to AMHI unchanged. Even though the hospital is referred to as AMHI in various laws, the state can call it the Riverview Psychiatric Center when it opens this fall, Rowe said.

“There is little question … that the Legislature intended the new center to be named Riverview Psychiatric Center,” Rowe said.

After an exhaustive review of hundreds of suggestions, Riverview Psychiatric Center was chosen for the replacement for the 163-year-old Augusta Mental Health Institute. The Legislature passed a resolve to that effect.

But earlier this year, as lawmakers considered putting the Riverview name into the statutes, the name was thrown into question.

Senate President Beverly Daggett told the Health and Human Services Committee it might consider naming the new facility for Dorothea Dix, a Maine native active in efforts to improve treatments for the mentally ill in the 19th century.

The bill died when members of the House and Senate could not agree, but the statutes were never changed to replace references to AMHI with the Riverview name.

Rowe said, however, that the many planning documents and legislative reports leading up to the construction made it clear that the hospital would be named Riverview.

Sabra Burdick, acting commissioner of the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services, said she hopes lawmakers eventually have the hospital’s name – whether it be Riverview or something else – referenced throughout state law.

“We’d be happy to work with the Legislature next year to either clean this up or go a different direction, if that is their intent,” Burdick said.

AP-ES-07-16-03 0216EDT



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