Pauli Halstead: Hindsight is 2020
Did a doctor (an MD), or a psychiatrist evaluate Gabriel Strickland before he was released?
If he was known to be mentally ill, and need a higher level of care, he never should have been released. My question is, what happened in jail?
If a person is mentally ill, on a controlled substance, and combative, that all adds up to a 5150 (72 hour mental health hold) at the Crisis Care Unit, “prior” to being booked into the jail. I think we are skipping this very important step when arresting mentally ill subjects.
Nevada County has a lot of mentally ill homeless people living in the woods (big problem for the community). However, not all of them are a danger to themselves and others (a 5150 criteria). Strickland likely met the 5150 criteria. The problem is, and continues to be, there are no MD’s at the jail. So, people without a medical license are making a determination whether someone is mentally stable enough to be released. You cannot just fill out a questionnaire and expect that to suffice for a medical and mental health examination by a MD.
Correctional health care is a relatively new industry and most counties in California use the services of a “for profit” medical provider. At Wayne Brown the County is contracted with Correctional Medical Group Companies, Inc. (AKA, WellPath). There are three medical services contractors in California to choose from and unfortunately all have been sued for inadequate delivery of services. In the case of Correctional Medical Group Companies, the lawsuits complain they do not provide sufficient staff 24/7 and that their staff does not have the required medical credentials for the job they are doing.
It is also important for the Board of Supervisors, and the sheriff’s office, that the ‘jail itself’ has the necessary accreditation when it comes to delivering quality healthcare at Wayne Brown. This is to ensure that systems, policies, and procedures are in place, which will produce the best outcomes for the inmates. One such accreditation service is the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
In making the application for accreditation an National Commission on Correctional Health Care survey team made up of physicians, nurses, and health administrators, will visit the jail and review medical records, as well as policies and procedures. They will interview health staff, correctional officers and inmates and tour the facility. An exit conference is then held to share their preliminary findings. Any problems will then be addressed so corrections can be implemented and accreditation can ensue.
When a correctional facility receives accreditation from the commission, it is understood that the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s office are committed to providing state-of-the-art medical and mental health services, which adhere to the highest standard of care for the inmates.
A year ago I wrote to the Board of Supervisors, County CEO, Sheriff Moon, and County Council, requesting that the jail be accredited, and they not renew the contract with Correctional Medical Group Companies (WellPath), unless certain changes were made “in the contract” to ensure better delivery of medical services for inmates. I never got a response from anyone on this.
In June, the Board of Supervisors renewed the contract for another year. The sheriff is responsible for overseeing the delivery of medical services by Correctional Medical Group Companies.
Pauli Halstead lives in Nevada City.
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