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New intake screening processes improve healthcare in jails

SAN DIEGO – Starting June 1, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department began implementing new procedures to improve healthcare services and expand its Medication-Assisted Treatment program.

These changes are being implemented during the medical screening process at the following intake facilities:

· Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility

· San Diego Central Jail

· Vista Detention Facility

All individuals entering a jail will continue to be screened for any history of substance abuse. Sheriff's medical staff will ask specific medical and mental health questions as part of the intake protocol.

As part of this screening, a urine test may be required from the individual prior to booking. They are looking to better identify those experiencing, displaying or reporting signs or symptoms of substance abuse or withdrawal or those with a history of use. This information will allow providers to start individuals on buprenorphine and other applicable medications to help improve care and safely manage withdrawal. This is a crucial step in expanding the Medication-Assisted Treatment Program.

Those showing withdrawal symptoms will be assessed by a medical provider and monitored closely. The screening will help doctors determine the correct dose of medication which includes buprenorphine to help alleviate the patient's withdrawal symptoms.

Deputies and officers taking individuals to jail don't need to do anything differently. They simply follow the instructions of medical staff. Restrooms in the intake areas will be used to facilitate this process. Deputies and officers may also collect urine samples while processing the individual at a station or substation using lab specimen bottles.

Medical staff will inform individuals the urine test is for medical purposes only so we can provide the care they need while in custody. Samples or test results cannot be used as evidence or to charge a person with a crime. Those who decline to participate will have their refusal documented in their health record.

Another notable change will streamline processes concerning individuals who show abnormalities while going through a body scanner. When a person is not accepted for booking, the Sheriff's Department will now provide a form detailing the concern. This information will help medical staff at a hospital in properly diagnosing the person.

When a hospital clears a person for booking, the arresting deputy or officer must provide a Medical Discharge/Clearance for Booking form to the Sheriff's Medical Staff. This discharge paperwork detailing the person's diagnosis and treatment will ensure continuity of care while in custody.

Law enforcement agencies in the county have been informed of this new medical screening protocols through the San Diego County Chiefs' and Sheriffs Association.


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