UMass Medical School experts to discuss substance use disorder and patient-centered medical homes at National Conference on Correctional Health Care

November 02, 2017

A pair of UMass Medical School correctional health experts will discuss efforts to treat inmates for opioid abuse and improve medical care behind bars at the National Commission on Correctional Health Care’s 2017 National Conference on Correctional Health Care Nov. 4-8 in Chicago, Illinois.

Warren J. Ferguson, MD, director of academic programs for UMass Medical School’s Health and Criminal Justice Program, will help lead a discussion Nov. 6 on “Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder for Individuals Leaving Jail or Prison.”

Dr. Ferguson will discuss his work with correctional departments in Connecticut and Rhode Island and sheriffs in the Massachusetts counties of Middlesex and Barnstable to study best practices for treating opioid abuse behind bars.

The pioneering correctional health practice collaborative studied medication-assisted treatment programs in order to develop best practices that can be shared nationwide. 

Professor and vice chair of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, Dr. Ferguson is founder and co-chair of the Academic and Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health.

Julie White, LICSW, senior director of operations for UMass Medical School’s Health and Criminal Justice Program, will lead a Nov. 8 session, “The Case for the Patient-Centered Medical Home in Correctional Health Care.”

The prison population has higher rates of mental illness, chronic medical conditions and infectious diseases than the general population, according to White. One study finds that 59 percent of prisoners in state systems with mental illness also had a co-occurring substance abuse problem.

White will discuss the potential for implementing a “health home” approach in providing health care behind bars that involves a coordinated, team effort by clinician and others to provide care to individuals who may have multiple chronic medical conditions and substance abuse issues.

White, who has more than two decades of experience with medical and behavioral health care in the correction system, has written on the issue for the Huffington Post.

Healthcare in the nation’s prisons is often broken down into various silos, with medical, mental health and substance abuse teams working independently instead of coordinating their efforts, White contends.

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