Governor Mills Announces New Health Care Use for Bangor Facility

Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration will propose using the building in Bangor commissioned by the previous administration as a “step-down” facility to, instead, offer a new option for inpatient-level care in the state while simultaneously expanding outpatient mental health services.

Under the proposal, which the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will submit as part of a change package for the budget, the facility would function as part of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center (DDPC) which is several hundred yards away, with services provided in part by existing staff rather than private contractors. Rather than serving as a site for patients transferring out of Riverview Psychiatric Center, it would be an additional destination for people in need of acute psychiatric care, including those who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial and jail transfers, whose numbers have been increasing in recent years.

“This new unit at Dorothea Dix represents the best path forward for the facility under construction,” said Governor Mills. “It is a more efficient use of the building, allowing us to strengthen the full range of mental health services, especially those in the community.”

“This initiative will expand the Department’s capability to care for patients with acute psychiatric needs through evidence-based treatment provided by well-qualified state mental health staff,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said.

“We view this as an opportunity to expand our outpatient services as well as our inpatient capacity, and look forward to developing detailed plans for this care,” said DDPC Acting Superintendent Carolyn Dimek.

The new unit will function as part of the main hospital, with shared staff, services, and DDPC administrators. It will be able to accommodate up to 20 beds, which will keep it within DDPC’s existing licensed capacity of 100 beds. DDPC currently operates 50 beds.

The annual cost of the new unit is estimated at $6.9 million, with approximately $4.3 million expected to be financed with federal funding through the Medicaid program, making the new use of the facility less costly to the state than the previous iteration. The Department also is pursuing additional federal funds through a waiver that supports inpatient mental health care, with federal resources being used in part to expand community-based mental health care.

Construction of the new unit is scheduled to be completed in May, with few modifications necessary for the proposed new use. The building will be leased to DHHS through DAFS.

Last week, Riverview Psychiatric Center was recertified by the federal government as qualifying for federal funding and is successfully treating and discharging patients into the community without such a stepdown unit.