- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A legislative committee on Thursday threatened to issue subpoenas to Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew and another official if they don’t attend an upcoming session to discuss the treatment of patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center, drawing an angry response from the commissioner.

Mayhew said in a statement that it’s “ludicrous” to think state commissioners can drop everything “to answer the beck and call of the Government Oversight Committee.”

“Instead of focusing on casting aspersions and making headlines, perhaps the Committee could have picked up the phone, contacted my office and worked with my schedule to arrange a meeting,” she said.

Mayhew and Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper missed a Government Oversight Committee meeting in which special court master Daniel Wathen, a former state supreme court justice, discussed ongoing deficiencies at the hospital.

Riverview lost its federal certification after an inspection uncovered problems, including overcrowding and the use of correctional officers to oversee patients. Other problems found in the inspection and subsequent reviews related to the use of stun guns and handcuffs, medication errors, and paperwork.

Last summer, a federal judge ruled that the state failed to meet a deadline for appealing the decision, potentially costing the state $20 million.

The administration has requested construction of a second facility for criminal patients so they can be separated from the regular population at Riverview. Meanwhile, Mayhew said progress is being made.

“I am proud of the significant progress that we have made at Riverview, and recognize there’s more work to be done. We must focus all of our energy on the steps necessary to improve the system of care and better serve Maine people with serious and persistent mental illness,” she said.

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