This Question & Answer session with Dr. C.J. Rush, our Chief Psychiatric Officer (CPO), provides insight into his passion for our patients’ mental health care. His energy and experience on the subject are remarkable!
- What has been the most exciting aspect of your role as CPO?
The most exciting aspect is that there has never been a CPO before. I love the challenge of breaking new ground. This allows me to create the systems necessary to take our Behavioral Health service line to the next level. I get to develop and implement systems that will establish a high-quality, evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders that will apply to all of our contracted sites that include a Behavioral Health component. I don’t have to take pre-existing systems that may be broken or inefficient and repair them.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges for mental health programs within the correctional health industry right now?
I believe one of the challenges is trying to improve the trust-based relationship between service providers and the jail administration to a level that accepts the definition of quality patient care. Some have minimal budgets, restrictive medication formularies, and psychotherapy services need to be expanded. There is a high level of change resistance in the corrections space, particularly in the realm of Mental Health and Psychiatry.
- How do you see our mental health programs evolving in the future?
I have already developed a program to do “restoration of competency” to stand trial in jail without transferring to the state hospital. I am creating protocols to streamline the approval of court-ordered psychiatric medication. I am working on ways to incorporate the use of long-acting injectables for inmate patients with Schizophrenia to reduce reliance on oral medications. Additionally, I am setting up educational tools so all Psychiatric Providers can certify as CCHP and then CCHP-MH.
Mental Health service lines will have more quality controls, streamlined EMR-based documentation, and open communication with myself and other leaders to bring CorrHealth Behavioral Health beyond NCCHC/ACA standards and align with the values put forth by CorrHealth–integrity, transparency, strong partnerships, and a firm commitment to always DO RIGHT.
- Since there is no academic MHP curriculum in schools, what would you suggest they study to become familiar with mental health in a correctional setting?
MHP is an acronym created by NCCHC. Most MHPs have a graduate degree in social work, psychology, or a similar field. It would be beneficial for options in Forensic Psychology to be added to the curriculum so that potential MHPs could get an introduction to the corrections space.
- What opportunities are available through CorrHealth that can influence our entry-level Mental Health Professionals and their future careers?
Expanding education and skills training is always important in a healthcare setting. CorrHealth offers education and fee assistance for certification through NCCHC. I will be setting up free educational tools to further that certification to the CCHP-MH level. For those who wish to return to school to further their level of education, there is tuition assistance/reimbursement for full-time employees. We also focus on promoting from within, and an entry-level MHP could work up to Mental Health Coordinator at a site or even end up as a provider if they so desire.