Out of the Shadows - The Legacy of Pineland Logo
Establishment of the Department of Health & Human Services

In an attempt to consolidate and eliminate bureaucracy, in 2003 a bill was proposed at the Legislature to merge the Department of Human Services and the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Servicers (formerly the Department of Mental Retardation) into one department: the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dorothea Dix

Born in 1802 in Hampden, Maine, Dorothea Lynde Dix became a fierce advocate for the poor and the mentally ill, who worked to create the first mental asylums in the United States.

History Repeats Itself?

The impulse toward institutions continues as some community-based facilities for developmentally disabled persons grow in size and the people they serve become less integrated in everyday community life and less in control of their own lives.

Beginnings of Community Care

With public and policy sentiment turning towards the idea that people with developmental disabilities deserved the right to care in their communities and a full life with control over their choices, a new system needed to be built from the ground up.

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, November 19, 1983 – Right side of clipping has two black and white photos of people with developmental disabilities, on left one sitting on a stationary bike and on right two people next to a telescope, one looking through the eyepiece, with the caption: “Jimmy McGuigan, left, exercises while at right Skip Farrington, left, and Roger Raymond check out a telescope.” Headline: Their Goal: To Join Society
Oversight and Protecting Rights

Neville Woodruff, the lawyer who represented Pineland residents in the lawsuit, threatened new suits against Pineland saying, “They are very far behind in three major areas - staffing, quality of programs, and staff training.” Court Master Gregory was critical of the lack of improvements at Pineland as well, saying residents were “still just being kept. Life for them is purposeless."

First page of the Wuori v Bruns complaint, filed July 3, 1975 in the U.S. District Court, Southern Maine Division
The Lawsuit

Pine Tree Legal Assistance, the first organization in Maine to provide free legal assistance to those in poverty, filed in federal district court in Maine on July 3, 1975 the lawsuit Wuori v. Bruns, alleging that the six defendants named in the case, and the "class" – all other residents and future residents – were not getting "training and education which would enable them so far as possible to lead normal lives."

Bureau of Mental Retardation and Public Guardianship

Another “responsibility” that was granted to this new department was control over people with developmental disabilities who were determined to need guardianship, and who didn’t have family members willing or able to be guardians.

Bureau of Mental Health Formed

“The Bureau of Mental Health shall be responsible for the direction of the mental health programs in the institutions within the department and shall be responsible for the promotion and guidance of mental health programs within the several communities of the State.”

Black and white photo of six girls sitting around a table, all wearing Camp Fire Girls uniforms, with papers and pencils. One is holding a bouquet of flowers.
A New Name and Vision – Pineland Hospital and Training Center

Superintendent Bowman himself began to express the view that many of those at Pineland could and should be returned to the community: “the mission and objective of Pineland is to return to the family, the community, and to outside civilization as many of the patients as possible, after they have received the maximum training and education we can provide here.”

Newspaper clipping from theLewiston Evening Journal, April 7, 1937 with the headline: "Act To Permit 240 To Enter Pownal School - Senate Bill Gives Health and Welfare Dep't Control of Admission""
History Policies
Expansion of the School

While changes were being made to the administrative structures of Maine’s institutions, the Pownal State School was undergoing an expansion as well. An increase in beds and buildings was championed by a new superintendent, Dr. Stephen E. Vosburgh, who was hired in 1919 and served for 18 years.