May 25—To improve Vigo County Community Correction's dual diagnosis program, the Vigo County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved two medical provider agreements.
The board approved Fairfield, Ohio-based Ethos Care for $250 per hour of clinical services rendered. Also approved was New York-based Talkspace Network LLC for $1,000 per month which includes initial psychiatric evaluation of 60 minutes and medication management, plus 12 follow up sessions, each 30 minutes, for the year.
"The number of defendants who have come into the program has increased very quickly," said Bill Watson, director of court services who oversees community corrections. "We looked to have two more agencies involved so we can continue to provide services in a quick, timely manner."
While most of the work is through telemedicine using a secure video, there will also be some in-person visits from psychiatrists in their networks, Watson told the board, adding there are 30 people who are in work release diagnosed for treatment.
Watson, after the meeting, said the dual diagnosis program is helping people, through the courts, with substance abuse and mental health issues.
"They are getting treatment for both of those while they are in work release and are stabilized and move out into the job market," he said.
The difference is Vigo County and the state of Indiana, starting in 2020, designated money for the program, which helps keep people out of the county jail.
"We tried to do services before but we relied on our community partners because we didn't have the resources — the money and the staffing," Watson said. "But when I made this proposal to the state...and made the proposal on the county side, everyone agreed this is where we can put some resources to try to make a difference on that population that spends a lot of time going back into the jail," Watson said.
The program's budget is about $800,000, Watson said, with the county paying $525,000 and the state contributing nearly $300,000 annually.
"These are people who have always been a major issue for the court system and the jail because they just continue to recycle through (incarceration) because of their mental health, substance abuse issues. You have to get fast immediate services and monitor them. When they are in the community, it makes it hard to monitor them.
"While they are in work release, we see them all the time so it make it easy to monitor them while they are in services to try to get them stabilized to where they are capable of going into the community, finding a job and keeping a job," Watson said.
Previously it could take weeks to get someone into a community program, "but these people don't have weeks, so now they come in, go through quarantine, they are incarcerated and don't leave the facility for a minimum of a month after we get them (into community corrections). They start mental health evaluation, and substance abuse evaluation, and then they start treatment groups.
"They start psychiatric appointments and start getting medications and start having individual sessions, all of that goes and gets started in the first four weeks and continues up to a six month process. It is a minimum of six months to get through that," Watson said.
Previously, Watson said people lasted seven to 10 days in the program, but now are in the program longer.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.