ACADEMY OF CORRECTIONAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
YOUR PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY FOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH CARE
1. Tell us some insights about your background and what motivated you to make the transition into the field of corrections?
Moving from the Emergency Department to corrections was going to be a temporary thing for me. It, however, turned out to be very fulfilling, challenging, and interesting. I quickly decreased my work in the ER and transitioned totally into corrections after a few years. It has been a great move with fantastic experiences.
2. Your volunteer work in rural and wilderness medicine is fascinating. Could you share an experience or story from your volunteer work overseeing EMS clinical care for fire departments and volunteer rescue services?
In my younger days, I was involved with cave rescue and the high angle rough terrain (HART) team. I became interested through local EMS personnel that volunteered their time for the good of the community. It was all about physical training with underground practice and rope work. Not only was repetition and familiarity with equipment important— knowing your partners was key. It is a massive team effort to rescue someone from deep in a cave, sometimes requiring close to a hundred hands to be successful. Teamwork, organization and knowing your assignment is critical. I also worked with several rescue squads—this was mostly water and rural rescue.
3. What have been the key lessons you’ve learned from each of your various experiences and how have they influenced your approach to healthcare?
The ability to work with limited resources in a sometime difficult situation is paramount. Never knowing what will come through the door and always be prepared for it. Having to be knowledgeable in all aspects of medicine—a true jack of all trades. All those carry over from my ER days with field (tactical/wilderness) medicine requiring you to be a McGyver at times. ER patients are very similar to those we see in corrections, so that transition was easy. Helping our population requires patience and the ability to communicate well with our population. Educating the patient about their disease process and treatment plan increases their compliance. They are grateful when you just sit and talk with them about their health and involve them in decisions.
4. What do you see for the future of correctional health care?
More consistency in treatment across jails and prisons around the country. Improvement not only in providing evidence based medical care but also monitoring of the care. Better release programs with reduction in recidivisms. Corrections is filled with underpaid, overworked individuals in a high stress environment. It takes a special breed of people to work in the medical and correctional side. I am hoping we see more recognition from the people in this field.
5. Why do you think it’s important to be an Academy member?
I believe it’s important to be an Academy member to hold colleagues and ourselves to a higher standard. To brainstorm together for better way to provide quality care. To provide leadership across the field of correctional medicine.