In this June 1, 2017, photo, author Stephen King speaks at Book Expo America in New York. Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP

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Thank you to Stephen and Tabitha King. My sentiment is long overdue. I thank them for the fabulous public pool, baseball fieldwarm jackets for local police, beautiful library improvements and for so much more. Their gifts improve lives in Maine. Today I wish to recognize the  gift to Acadia Hospital for expansion of pediatric beds. I thank them for the donation and their challenge for others to follow their example.

Children across Maine are  languishing for weeks and in some cases for months in small rooms in emergency departments due to the critical shortage of mental health resources. An emergency room is not a substitute for children who require intensive in-patient mental health care. Children are deprived of educational services, exercise and even exposure to sunlight as they wait and wait for appropriate placements. Prisoners are often afforded more rights and privileges than children who languish in emergency departments.

It should come as no surprise that significant assaults upon emergency care workers from children are up as well. Extended stays in emergency rooms do not improve the behavior of children suffering from serious mental health challenges. Nurses and other emergency medical care staff can only take so much physical abuse before saying “enough” and walking away from the job.

So thank you to Stephen and Tabitha King for bringing attention to the children in Maine who desperately need a place to find healing and hope for a better life. This is not a population who has many champions, and I thank the Kings for being theirs.

Marianne Lynch

District Attorney

Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties