Sheriff: New Mental Health Pods Put Tulsa Near Top At Treating Mental Illness

Thursday, February 9th 2017, 11:28 pm

By: News On 6

The Tulsa County sheriff said new mental health pods at the jail will be open by March 1st. He hopes to have them staffed with a full-time trained Registered Nurse.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said that when it comes to treating inmates with mental illness, he'd stack the Tulsa County jail up against any other in the country.

Regalado said the new mental health pods are cutting edge nationally and needed treatment areas for a jail where 35 percent of inmates are being treated for some sort of mental illness.

"It's a huge issue. We do have a portion of our jail population that suffer from mental illness," Regalado said.

The purpose of Thursday night's meeting was to show the public what the sheriff's office is doing to help mentally ill inmates in, and outside, of the jail.

1/12/2017 Related Story: New Tulsa Jail Expansion Increases Services For Mentally Ill

"The goal behind it is to treat them while they're in there, but, hopefully, provide a program and assistance on the outside so that they don't come back," the sheriff said.

Regalado said they, along with the new medical service provider, Turn Key, hope to staff the mental health pods with RNs, psychologists, and detention officers trained specifically to deal with mental health patients.

"What that does for us is it keeps our jail population down; everything that goes into housing an inmate, which, from a money standpoint, is quite a bit,” he said. “And it provides a needed service to people who have an illness."

That's something mental illness advocates in the area can get on board with.

"We are especially interested in seeing people that end up incarcerated are properly cared for, and we really hope these pods not only lead to proper care in jail but lead toward a better recovery," said Ellen Harris with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Regalado said they also want to provide a direct 1-800 number so inmates’ family members can call to check on them and tell the staff any additional treatments they might need.


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