Questions, Answers and Ideas Flow on NCCHC Connect

Posted Sep 5, 2018

Barbara Wakeen

Fall is in the air, with summer activities winding down and the new school year starting for many. Fall also means that the NCCHC National Conference in Las Vegas is just around the corner. NCCHC conferences are a great way to network, but in the interim, you can interact with your peers and colleagues through the Commission’s new online community, NCCHC Connect.

NCCHC Connect is off to a great start. Within a few weeks of its launch more than 500 members had joined, with 16 groups formed to focus on specific topics and more than 50 conversations underway. To date, the Nursing and Mental Health groups are leading with the most activity.

If you haven’t joined yet, you are missing out! Here are just a few of the many thought-provoking topics that I’ve followed:

  • How to handle situations where inmates refuse to take their critical medications (Nurse Practitioners group)
  • Legislative mandates for facilities to provide medication-assisted treatment as the standard of care for individuals who use opioids (Quality Improvement group)
  • How one’s practice in correctional health care aligns with long-term professional goals (Young Professionals group)
  • Professional ethics and “dual loyalty” when working in a correctional setting (Mental Health Professionals group)
  • Use of inmate observer/companion programs to assist inmates on suicide precautions (Suicide Prevention group)
  • Most of the groups are public—no approval is needed to join. Others are set to private because they are for defined categories of individuals, such as state medical directors or health services administrators at facilities accredited by NCCHC.
Helping Each Other

Each group has a moderator to keep discussions on track. In the group for Certified Correctional Health Professionals, Ralf Salke, BSN, RN, CCHP-A, is the moderator, and he has been active in the CCHP and other group discussions. When Ralf was asked how it’s going, he replied with great enthusiasm.

“I started out by focusing on the benefits of CCHP certification,” he said. “The list is long and distinctive, including reputation, moral compass, connections, increased knowledge of NCCHC’s standards, instrumental value and self-regulation. Through public and private dialogue, group members have discussed how to obtain certification, helpful reading materials and how to study for the exam. The participation and assistance is stellar.”

Ralf is a seasoned correctional health care professional with more than 30 years of experience in this field, so he knows a thing or two about professional development—take him at his word when he advocates for NCCHC Connect as an excellent form of “collegial collaboration.” (See more about the CCHP group on NCCHC Connect »)

Suicide Prevention Efforts Advance

Speaking of collaboration, NCCHC Connect is serving as a workspace for one of the closed groups, formed to enhance communication and project management for members of the NCCHC Suicide Prevention Summit work group. (See more about the project »)

With suicide being the leading cause of death in jails, it is imperative to put a halt to these tragedies. This year, with the support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the work group met during NCCHC’s Correctional Mental Health Care Conference. They have made significant progress in developing a National Response Plan for Suicide Prevention and are developing tools and guidance for correctional facilities across the nation. You’ll be hearing more about this initiative soon.

In the meantime, I encourage you to join NCCHC Connect’s public group on suicide prevention, moderated by Lindsay Hayes, MS, the nation’s leading expert on this important topic.

Hope to “connect” with you soon!

Barbara A. Wakeen, MA, RDN, CCHP, is the chair of NCCHC’s board of directors and principal of Correctional Nutrition Consultants, Ltd.

— From CorrectCare Volume 32, Issue 3, Summer 2018