ACA Updates Jail Health Care Standards
McKim, Kathleen, Corrections Today
During the past several years, the American Correctional Association has steadily worked toward its goal of converting its standards manuals to a performance-based format. The most recent product of this initiative is the revision of the Standards for Adult Local Detention Facilities, Third Edition. In an attempt to ensure the new jail manual is as productive and effective as possible, ACA, in conjunction with the American Jail Association and the National Sheriffs' Association, established an adult local detention facility working group. The working group spent the past two years reviewing and revising the current standards as well as developing practical outcome measures. The final draft of the new manual was submitted to the ACA Standards Committee last August and has been approved for field-testing.
Developing new health care standards that reflect current trends and practices has also been a major ACA initiative and has been included in the development of the draft version of the Performance-Based Standards for Adult Local Detention Facilities, Fourth Edition. This manual contains the latest revisions of the performance-based health care standards for jails. For those agencies already accredited, this is an opportunity to improve health care delivery while developing a data collection system that will enhance current management functions. For agencies that are not accredited, ACA has added the option of independent health care accreditation for jails using standards, expected practices and outcome measures contained within the draft fourth edition that pertain to the health and safety of offenders and staff. The independent health care accreditation is available as a field-test.
There are numerous challenges facing health care professionals in the jail setting. The inmate population is often from a socioeconomic environment that is not conductive to adequate, age-appropriate health care, and in most cases, the health care provided during incarceration is all that is available to them. There is a significantly greater number of occurrences of infectious disease and mental health disorders among incarcerated populations, many going undetected and untreated. In addition, the rapid turnover makes the identification, prevention and medical management of jail inmates extremely risky and difficult. The new standards, expected practices and outcome measures included in the new jail manuals are designed to assist agencies with the difficult challenges of providing health care services to an incarcerated population. Issues such as health screening, infection control, mental health, chronic care and medication administration are addressed with clear guidelines that provide the framework for an effective health care program. …