Sometimes when you hit a road block, you have to find a detour.
I was appalled when Democrats recently voted—twice—to block the approval of plans to construct a secure mental health unit in Augusta. While Riverview has been a political pawn for Democrats for years, it needs to stop.
This new facility is needed for individuals who are not criminally responsible and who no longer require a hospital level of care. This facility would ensure these forensic patients receive the right treatment in the right setting.
Moving individuals who no longer need a hospital level of care will significantly improve Riverview’s ability to meet the statewide demand for inpatient psychiatric capacity for civil patients, and become certified as a state mental health hospital. Many of them are stuck in local emergency rooms waiting for a bed.
Plans for the new facility have been in the works for two years. In May, the Capitol Planning Commission approved the same plans, as did the City of Augusta Planning Board. Let me be clear: patients are my priority. With or without the Democrats’ approval, a new mental health unit will be built.
I have agreed to work with new legislators should they have questions. However, I expect elected officials to do their homework before the first day of school.
The State plan has been online and will continue to be. I encourage lawmakers to read the more than 200 pages we have made available to the public.
Democrats claim to be the party of the people—but they refuse to provide care or compassion for the elderly and the physically and mentally disabled.
It is unconscionable that Democrats are being obstructionists just to score political points. They must demonstrate real compassion for the truly needy patients we are treating in this facility today and into the future.
Democrats on the Legislative Council can choose to do what’s right and I hope they do.