RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Each day about 55 inmates at the Richmond City Justice Center are treated for a mental health issue, and now some of it has gone high-tech.
“Have you ever had a problem with that in the past?” Nurse Practitioner Marsha Burgess asks one of the jail residents who asks that we do not identify him.
It’s a routine checkup. The man is having some medications tweaked. But while he is in Richmond, Burgess is nearly 700 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama.
“There are many, many patients who need psychiatric care, and this helps us to keep up and make it more timely,”
Burgess, NaphCare’s Director of Clinical Services, explains.
The jail is now using NaphCare video conferencing with Burgess as a supplement to its own psychiatry services.
“They don’t have to go anywhere,” Sheriff C.T. Woody lists the ways this additional in-house option for care is helping.
“It cuts down on fighting, it cuts down on attempted suicide, it cuts down on everything, it keeps them calmer and plus they’re really treating the cause.”
The TelePsych appointments are now used to treat everything from situational depression to schizophrenia.
“Will the medicine help me?” the inmate asks Burgess via the technology. “I hope so,” she answers.
For the men and women who have mental health issues, Burgess says it is another step towards a productive life on the outside. “The hope is that if you can identify the mental health issues while they’re incarcerated it may help decrease the recidivism if they’re treated and have appropriate follow up.”
Right now about fifteen men and women housed at the City Justice Center have a TelePsych appointment every week. Sheriff Woody says he hopes to expand the technology to use it even more.