NAMI MEETS WITH JAIL STAFF - By Judy Turnbaugh - April 25th '08
Donald Turnbaugh and Judy Turnbaugh – recently met with staff from the Pinellas County Jail to discuss some issues of concern.
Major Alexis Davis (commanding officer/jail and detentions), Janice Hill (RN and Health Monitor) and Vicky Scotti (RN and Program Administrator Inmate Health Care) attended the meeting to discuss the following topics:
! Admissions-Intake Process Everyone taken to jail is evaluated by an Intake Nurse with both a verbal interview and observation.
Many deny having any medical or mental issues. Unless it is determined they require an evaluation, they are put in the general population. Most deny having mental health issues.
Medications are prescribed by Dr. Miller, PCSO Jail Psychiatrist. He determines if a patient requires medication--only he can prescribe them. If patients refuse to take medications, they cannot be forced to take them.
If a person is admitted to jail and is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, medications are not prescribed until the person detoxes.
If a patient comes from the state hospital and is currently on specific medications, the jail will keep them on those meds.
Dr. Miller has the overall responsibility of the patients.
! Medical Unit vs General Population
Those with medical or mental issues could go to the medical unit; however, not everyone does.
! Interactions with Mental Health
Providers The jail will attempt to contact organizations providing services and will share medical records with the mental health providers (e.g., Focused Outreach, Case Managers, FACT, etc.) who visit clients.
! Interactions with Family Members and Caregivers
The jail follows HIPPA regulations and cannot release information unless a previously signed Release of Information exists authorizing a specific person to receive information.
! Discharge Procedures
Upon release, individuals get a 3- day supply of meds and a list of local resources. No direct followup is provided.
! What can families do?
Families are encouraged to provide information to the jail. The family liaison is Janice Hill, RN, MPH, LHRM, Health Services Monitor. She can be reached at  464-6415, extension 49372 or by Fax at  464-7984.
Unless there is a Release of Information, they can only listen to what the family has to report. You can provide a 1-2 page summary of the diagnosis, medications (names, dosages, adverse affects). Include the name of the current mental health provider.
Families and friends can phone or visit the jail during visitation hours.
Note: the visitations are via a TV screen.
Unfortunately, the jails have become the defacto mental health facilities. However, the jail is not a “treatment facility.” This is difficult for all of us to accept when we know that our loved ones need treatment while incarcerated.
As family members and advocates, we must continue to pursue appropriate treatment so that our loved ones do not go to jail, live homeless on the streets, etc.
To advocate, I urge all of you to use your strength and energies by contacting your legislators and requesting adequate funding (they hold the m o n e y ) for mental health services. The upcoming budget cuts in social services are going to make it more and more difficult to receive treatment and medications. Please write, email or call your legislators and advise them of your personal stories and what happens when a person with a mental illness is not treated.