Chris Wibbenmeyer, CEO of Perry County Health System (PCHS), signed an agreement recently to offer drug testing services to individuals participating in the Adult Treatment Criminal Court (Treatment Court) program. The signing of this agreement is the last hurdle to having treatment court services provided comprehensively in Perry County.
For more than 12 years, many key stakeholders have been trying to make the Treatment Court program offered in Perry County fully available on a local level. Treatment Court is an 18-month, intensive, comprehensive, court-supervised treatment program for individuals convicted of substance use and/or possession. It is set up as an alternative to incarceration. Participation in this program includes regular court appearances, frequent random drug testing, individual counseling and group counseling, and established employment or involvement in vocational or educational programs. The treatment court program is funded via federal and state agencies, supervised and ran by the courts, and then facilitated between the courts and the agencies to assist eligible participants in successful completion of the program.
Unfortunately, individuals participating in this program from Perry County are oftentimes faced with barriers that make their success prohibitive. In May 2022, over 30 Perry County stakeholders gathered together to complete a Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) workshop. A SIM workshop is an evidenced based community planning tool, which can be utilized to identify ways to better meet the behavioral health needs of the justice involved population. This workshop identified a goal to improve access to Treatment Court for Perry County residents as they are faced with three barriers. The barriers faced include transportation to and from Perryville to Cape Girardeau for mandatory weekly court appearances, having local service providers who treat both substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, and having a local drug screening site that could comply with the collection standards set by law to avoid travel.
Following this, various local agencies including the local prosecuting attorney, Caitlin Pistorio; the 32nd Judicial Circuit Judge, Judge Lipke; the treatment court administrator; Missouri Probation and Parole; Perry County Sheriff’s Department; Community Counseling Center; Gibson Recovery Center; PCHS; SMTS; and other agencies met at Community Counseling Center monthly to create a solution to bring accessible services to the community. Ultimately, SMTS was able to facilitate the transportation aspect through a grant award, Community Counseling Center was able to facilitate the local treatment aspects (group and individual counseling), and PCHS was able to facilitate the lab requirements for random drug sampling.