1. What’s the number one thing that you feel Nursing and Medical School candidates misunderstand about correctional health?
Excellent question, and with several answers! First, there appears to be a complete misunderstanding regarding safety. There is a major disconnect between how correctional facilities are perceived versus what is actually occurring. My guess is that the dramatization of correctional facilities presented in TV and movies has dramatically influenced medical professionals’ perception and has led them to believe these facilities are not a safe place to work. On the contrary, having worked in ambulatory care centers, hospitals, and jails/prisons, I can confidently state that there are no safer places to work than correctional facilities. Second, I feel there is a complete misunderstanding of the inmate-patient population and the medicine being practiced on site. Again, likely due to TV and movies, there is an inaccurate picture of the entire population as young adult males -all healthy and without chronic medical problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inmate patients cover the total spectrum of ages. Additionally, due to many of them coming from underserved areas with limited access to healthcare, the variety and severity of chronic illnesses seen within correctional facilities is far more diverse than any other medical facility. Thus, if a nursing or medical school candidate loves the tremendous variety that medicine has to offer, there is no better or more interesting place to work!
2. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the correctional health right now?
I see the biggest challenges to correctional healthcare right now as twofold. First, the incredible, nationwide shortage of nurses. Unlike extremely profitable hospitals or healthcare organizations that can simply dip into their deep pockets and fund excessive agency costs for as long as necessary, correctional healthcare functions via a tight, fixed budget. The exponential increase in staffing costs due to the need for, but scarcity of, nurses and thus the requirement to hire an agency at often double or triple the budgeted allowance has eaten away at, or eliminated, the already thin profit margin. Second, the ongoing social stigma and misunderstanding regarding substance abuse and its physical dependence continues to delay and limit the treatment necessary to manage this awful illness. Thus, leading to inevitable recidivism. Without an understanding that treatment of a substance abuse disorder is as necessary as insulin to a type 1 diabetic, correctional healthcare will continue to fight a losing battle in trying to manage these incredibly at-risk inmate patients.
3. Barbeque – wet or dry?
YES!! Since moving to North Texas my BBQ eyes have been opened! Picking amongst high-quality BBQ is like picking which child you love more. I love it all!
4. What do you do to keep balance with your work as CMO and your family life?
Honestly, this process must start with one’s employer and end with one’s family. If I was forced to work 100-hour weeks and every weekend, any intention of maintaining a work-life balance would be impossible. Thankfully, I have been blessed with an employer who recognizes the importance of a work-life balance and actively ensures it is occurring. I am regularly asked what plans I have with my family and if I am finding enough time to stay connected with them. Furthermore, I am lucky enough to have a family that understands that medicine is 24/7 and calls can occur at all hours. Thus, efforts are made regularly to schedule quality family time together. But, if a phone call does occur, my family accepts this, and once off the phone, the quality family time can continue.
5. How do you see our programs evolving in the future?
Evolutions in the healthcare landscape, especially the correctional healthcare landscape, are extremely difficult to predict. I do see the demand for high-quality, comprehensive MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) programs continue to soar; a welcomed evolution and one CorrHealth is well positioned for. As for our specific programs, I am not 100% sure where they are headed as the market will evolve and make those decisions for us, but what makes CorrHealth such a dynamic industry leader is our ability to quickly change and adapt.
6. What is your favorite meal to order for a nice dinner out?
As a family that loves to cook, and cooks well (as our neighbors will attest), we very rarely go out to eat. But, if we do, I always try to order something I cannot, or do not, cook myself. This usually means ordering a more unique species of animal or fish.