The Saint Cloud Timesrecently featured CentraCare Health’s correctional care (“jail medicine”) program. This unique public-private partnership is designed to identify and treat mental illness and addiction while inmates are in custody. We then link them to a special clinic following release to the community for ongoing management. (I serve as the medical director for the program.)
We launched in the Benton County Jail on October 1st, 2017, and in the Stearns County Jail on January 1st, 2o18. As outlined in the article, the early signals are promising: fewer ambulance trips between the jail and hospital, fewer detox admissions and decreased total cost of care.
As far as we know, we’re the only Minnesota counties starting inmates on Suboxone, the medication to treat opioid addiction, while in custody. And, one needs to look far and wide to find other examples nationally.
Providers see inmates in jail and following release to the community. This continuity of care is unprecedented. Health authorities (a statutory term) have historically focused on inmates’ immediate medical needs in jail without regard for the bigger picture. This penny-wise but pound-foolish approach doesn’t resolve some big reasons—mental illness and addiction— for criminal recidivism. Thus the revolving door.
Special thanks to my partners in crime (sorry! couldn’t stop myself):
Two years ago today, North Memorial Health opened its Mental Health & Addiction Center. Previously, it didn’t have an outpatient clinic for medication management and psychotherapy, or to receive patients following hospital discharge.
Kelly Macken-Marble and I served as the project’s executive sponsors. In truth, John Sutherland, Jackie Dean, David Oliver and Marrion Muia did all of the work. And, boy, was it a lot of work! The project involved everything from architectural drawings to clinical workflows—literally thousands of hours, decisions and details.
KSTP’s Ken Barlow, who has bravely and very publicly shared his brush with bipolar disorder, was the master of ceremony. A good time was had by all.
Middle Left: John Sutherland and Jackie Dean cutting the ribbon. Middle Right: Ken Barlow. Bottom Left: Ken Barlow; David Frenz; and Brian Johns, M.D.
This week, we paused from life’s bustle to celebrate a remarkable public-private partnership. CentraCare Health, based in St. Cloud, Minn., began discussing correctional health care (“jail medicine”) with its host counties about three years ago. This ultimately resulted in CentraCare being named as the health authority (a statutory term) for the Benton County Jail and Stearns County Jail.
I’m fortunate to be part of the team that spun up the program. Originally, it was just Katy Kirchner, Heather Qunell, Cindy Henze and me squatting in a vacant office. There were only two desks, so I typically sat on the floor with my laptop.
The program also owes its success to incredible nurses and support staff, and unwavering executive support. On the CentraCare side, Kelly Macken-Marble and Kathy Parsons have championed the partnership. And from the counties, Captains Susan Johnson (Benton) and Mark Maslonkowski (Stearns), the jail administrators, have been fantastic colleagues.
Many thanks to CentraCare for involving me in this deeply rewarding opportunity! §
My longtime collaborator, Jim Beattie, and I will be taking our roadshow to Cleveland, Ohio, for the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association’s Annual Conference. Our four-hour workshop (sounds long, goes fast) provides a practical introduction to evidence-based medicine (EBM). The material is adapted from courses that we teach at University of Minnesota and prior MLA conference presentations. This blog post serves as our “course website.”
I was recently recognized by Minnesota Monthly as a “Top Doctor” in the specialty of addiction medicine. I’ve appeared in its annual listing every year since 2014. The directory can be found in the October print issue and online.