The court master who oversees the rights of mental health patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center says there have been improvements, but there's still some way to go before the Augusta psychiatric hospital is ready to operate without the intense scrutiny of a consent decree.
Dan Wathen has served as court master for Riverview, since 1990, when he was appointed as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit by former psychiatric patients.
In a report covering the period from December, 2017, to July 31, 2017, Wathen says the staffing situation at Riverview is "much improved." But he says more psychiatric providers, and more psychologists, need to be hired.
Wathen also oversees other aspects of the state mental health system. In the report he says the state is making substantial progress in reducing wait times for services. But he says there's still a need for more providers to help patients manage medication.
And Wathen says he and the Department of Health and Human Services are working toward a situation within two years in which the state's mental health system could operate without his oversight.