Barnstable County Sheriff Partners with UMass Medical School

Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings

BARNSTABLE – Barnstable County Sheriff Jim Cummings is one of four partners in a new UMass Medical School collaborative focused on improving addiction treatment in correctional settings.

The collaborative will work to develop a screening and treatment model that can be shared with correctional leaders nationwide.

Other partners in the collaborative include the department of corrections in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.

“Correctional health leaders from state and county systems have come together to form this innovative collaborative,” said Warren Ferguson, MD, professor and vice chair of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, director of academic programs for its Health and Criminal Justice Program, and founder and co-chair of the Academic and Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health. “We will work side by side to study best practices in treating substance use disorders in prisons and jails.”

Nationwide, 65 percent of inmates meet the medical criteria for substance use disorder, but just 11 percent receive treatment while incarcerated.

Many additional inmates, while not afflicted with the disorder, were under the influence of drugs when they were arrested for the crime that led to incarceration.

The collaborative will address substance use by assessing current screening and treatment practices for opioid addiction, making recommendations for improvements, and implementing proven practices to create a model.

The Barnstable County Correctional Facility was the first adult detention facility in Massachusetts to launch a Vivitrol program in 2012, and statistics show it has reduced recidivism.

Sheriff Cummings last year revealed that 82 percent of the 178 inmates given an injection of the opioid blocker at release have not been incarcerated again.

“We are delighted to have been chosen by the prestigious UMass Medical School in Worcester as a partner in this upcoming project,” Cummings said. “UMass Medical is the latest to validate our status and success. We look forward to where this project will take us. We have much to impart and much still to learn.”

The second project of the collaborative, Hepatitis C screening and treatment, is expected to begin late in 2017.

Teams, which may include different correctional health systems, will assess current standards of screening for and treating individuals with Hepatitis C-infection in the system.

Without proper health care and resources, an individual’s health may deteriorate and can cause harm to others by spreading the disease in and out of prison.

The collaborative is supported through two grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

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