Over 20 Rutgers Psychiatric Residents joined CFG in a tour of New Jersey’s biggest jail system – Essex County Jail. Dr. Dennis Sandrock, CFG’s Director of Mental Health for Corrections, led the Residents and CFG’s Residency Outreach team through the intricate and highly organized, structural system that can house over 2000 inmates. They were accompanied by Correctional Lieutenants and Officers escorting them as arranged by CFG’s H.S.A. for Essex County, Madaline Bell.
This 2-hour tour gave insight not only into where, why, and how these inmates lived within confinement, but also into the need for psychiatric care for approximately 1/3 of people who are incarcerated into the jail/prison system. Dr. Sandrock’s tour stretched from the initial booking process, which includes a medical examination and psychiatric evaluation for every new inmate, to the goal of eventual release and reintegration for an inmate back into civilian life. Essex is fortunate to have this type of transitional program. The behavioral health needs that these patients within the jail system have not gone unmet, but they do present very real, logistical challenges – both in the volume of patients, and in the difficulty of finding enough clinical workers to meet the need.
At the end of the tour was a Q&A session between the Residents and CFG’s own Medical Director of Essex County Jail, Dr. Lionel Anicette, who had much to explain about the details over an inmate who may be between the hospitals and jail for different circumstances. Dr. Anicette’s enthusiasm for doing the work properly and at the best of our capabilities brought one question after another from Residents.
Lastly we were brought a perspective through the eyes of a man who has been in Corrections for over 40 years, Director of Essex County Jail, Alfaro Ortiz. Director Ortiz’s passion for doing right for the inmates, as well as the society at large, gave an enlightening frame of consciousness about the seriousness and dedication one must have when working in his jail system.
In these cases where inmates need prescription medications, clinical help, and even suicidal prevention, Rutgers residents were right on point with their questions and concerns for these patients. Their questions were met with answers and sincerity from CFG providers and prison staff alike, having addressed many topics on how the patients’ lives and current issues within the correctional systems could be made better with the goal of eventual release in mind.
With gained knowledge and insight into the world of behavioral and mental health needs within Corrections, Rutgers Residents gave positive feedback as to how this experience would impact their interactions within the hospitals they currently work in – and more specifically, how to more effectively serve mutual patients in transit between the hospitals (in which they currently work) and the jail. The CFG Residency Outreach team would like to thank all involved in this successful event. We hope to open more eyes in the valuable work found in the jail systems.