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Press Releases


Correctional Health Services, a division of NYC Health + Hospitals, now conducts pre-arraignment health screening and assessments for medical and behavioral health issues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at MDC

Nov 04, 2016

New York, NY

Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, announced that beginning November 1, 2016, Correctional Health Services (CHS) has expanded coverage to conduct health screening and assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week for detainees awaiting arraignment at the Manhattan Detention Center. These health screenings allow for early identification of medical, mental health and substance use issues and can support a path for diversion for those with serious behavioral health conditions.
“We understand that quality medical care in the correctional setting doesn’t begin when an individual arrives in jail,” said Dr. Raju. “There are multiple opportunities to provide better care, and the expansion of our pre-arraignment screening program will help us improve the continuity of care both within the criminal justice system and with community-based providers.”
“Reaching individuals and identifying health issues as early as possible will help us respond as appropriately as possible,” said Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals for Correctional Health Services. “With advance information, we can support diversion to alternatives to incarceration or we can anticipate and expedite patients who do come to jail with urgent health concerns.”
CHS began a pilot program in May of 2015 called the Enhanced Pre-arraignment Screening Unit (EPASU). Staffed by a patient care associate, a nurse, and a mental health professional, 10,240 screens have been performed in the EPASU since the program began, with nearly 3,000 individuals being referred to a nurse for more in-depth assessment. Over 500 individuals with acute medical needs were given medication for conditions such as asthma and hypertension. Each treatment eliminated an unnecessary hospital run, which takes an average of 4.5 hours and two NYPD officers, or 4,369 NYPD hours total over the course of the pilot. EPASU staff have shared 873 individuals’ behavioral health summaries with legal defense groups to assist in their clients’ advocacy.
Health information gained in the EPASU screening is also shared with correctional health providers in jail in order to improve continuity of care for arrestees who enter into custody of the Department of Correction. Individuals seen or treated for pressing medical needs that will need follow-up are prioritized upon arrival in a jail clinic.
“The de Blasio administration’s expanded initiative to conduct health screenings for detainees before they’re arraigned isn’t just good public health policy, its good public policy. By quickly identifying detainees’ medical conditions, including behavioral health and substance abuse issues, NYC Health + Hospitals is helping provide better and more comprehensive care to a patient population that is typically underserved by health care networks,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.
“As a pilot project here in Manhattan, I believe most attorneys would agree that enhanced pre-arraignment screening has been instrumental in helping a good number of our clients either avoid incarceration and/or put them on the path to receive much needed services,” said Ed McCarthy, the Legal Aid Society’s Supervising Attorney in the Manhattan office of the Criminal Defense Practice. “Now that the program will be staffed around the clock, EPASU promises to have an even larger impact on dispositions. That benefits everyone.”
“The Court is pleased that the enhanced pre-arraignment screening unit will operate around the clock,” said the Hon. Melissa C. Jackson, Administrative Judge, New York City Criminal Court. “This service has shown that it can reduce delays in arraignment processing, enhance medical treatment for incarcerated defendants and communicate critical medical information to the jails and defense counsel at the earliest stages of a criminal case.”
Pre-arraignment medical screening Units (PASU) were established in 1994 in NYC central booking facilities to assess the health of people entering the justice system and direct those who require emergency care to City hospitals for treatment. FDNY emergency medical technicians originally staffed these units, and they will continue to do so in the City’s other central booking facilities. The EPASU pilot, which covered the 6:00am to 2:00pm shift Monday through Friday, was funded at $420,000 by the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System. The City’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget included an additional $2.7 million for the expansion of this successful pilot program.