Suboxone Treatment in Jail

The Saint Cloud Times recently 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.)

Captain Mark Maslonkowski. Photo: Jason Wachter

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.

Our ever-growing provider team includes:

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):

  • Captain Susan Johnson (Benton)
  • Katy Kirchner, director
  • Captain Mark Maslonkowski (Stearns)
  • Kenzie Moehle, supervisor
  • Heather Qunell, manager

Sunday Sermon

Well, not exactly. They didn’t let me get anywhere near the pulpit!

I did, however, speak at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church for its weekly Table Talk series (the title is a nod to Luther). Last week, I presented on addiction. Today, I held forth on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is a way to reduce emotional disturbances by thinking more clearly.

My “text” for last week was Romans 7:15. I also wandered through DSM-5 and Doug Sellman’s “Top 10” on my way to Gerald May’s brilliant conceptualization. I didn’t have a text today, however, “renew your mind” would have been apt.

Many thanks to Dr. Arland Hultgren  (see, also, Amazon) for inviting me to visit such a wonderful parish. And also Rev. Tim Nelson for connecting us.

P.S. I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and so far have avoided seminary myself. But I wound up in the “belief business” anyway. §