DETECT program reaches more than 200 clinicians in Mississippi - DETECT MS
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DETECT program reaches more than 200 clinicians in Mississippi

DETECT program reaches more than 200 clinicians in Mississippi

The DETECT program – the Developmental Evaluation, Training, and Evaluation Consultative Team – has made significant strides in the two-plus years it has been operating in Mississippi.

Operated from its central location at Hudspeth Regional Center, the program offers training and consultation for physicians and other medical professionals who have begun treating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whose unique needs may represent challenges for professionals who are untrained or inexperienced in those areas. The program also offers a way for families to find community-based healthcare providers who are suited for their needs.

DETECT Clinical Director Dr. Craig Escude and DETECT Program Evaluator Dr. John Bartkowski recently provided an update on DETECT to the Board of Mental Health, showing the need Mississippi has for just such a program.

“To provide a big picture for IDD in the US, Americans with an intellectual or developmental disability constitute about five to nine million Americans. That’s roughly one and a half to three percent of all citizens,” Dr. Bartkowski said.

“There’s a reduced life expectancy for people with IDD, to the point that they have twenty percent fewer years of life. In terms of the prevalence of IDD in Mississippi, Mississippi is among the states with the greatest levels of IDD related health disparities.”

There are elevated risks for obesity, smoking, low earnings, unemployment, and underemployment, and there are pronounced issues related to self-care. Significantly fewer percentages of people with IDD receive standard physical exams, as well as hearing, eye, and dental exams.

“Historically, people with IDD have been underserved here in Mississippi,” Dr. Bartkowski said.

What DETECT has done is create an infrastructure that is working to change those disparities. It includes a referral network of more than 200 medical providers and more than 40 dentists statewide. It has also worked to include relevant information related to IDD in courses at the University of Mississippi and William Carey University.

“This results in a sea change, because you’re targeting the career pipeline of medical professionals,” Dr. Bartkowski said.

Medical students now make on-site visits to the DETECT clinic at Hudspeth Regional Center, and the program is making professional publications available to students and medical professionals. It has had more than 1,700 people attend more than 20 educational seminars. Dr. Escude has been asked to speak at seminars or training workshops in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and California.

“Mississippi is now seen as a leader in IDD-related physician education,” Dr. Bartkowski said. “Mississippi is actually a stringent test for a program like DETECT, because there are such health disparities in the state, and there is also a physician shortage as well.”

That education has shown to be effective in the surveys that have taken place at the seminars and workshops. Surveys showed 95 percent of respondents said they would change their treatment modalities because of the information they learned, and a full 100 percent said the seminars increased their awareness of IDD issues. Another 98 percent said they would recommend the seminars to their colleagues, and 97 percent said the educational seminars were effective.

Providers at seminars have also been asked to score themselves on their effectiveness in delivering medical care to a patient with IDD. The average score before the seminars was a 56 out of 100. Afterwards, their scores showed a proportional gain in their scores of 29 percent.

“There’s a big diamond, if you will, in the way I see community support for people with disabilities, and there are many facets that make up that diamond,” Dr. Escude said. “Medical care is certainly one of those facets, and we are all working in a lot of ways to create the perfect community support for people with IDD, and I’m thankful for the opportunity and the support we have had.”

The federal grant that has funded DETECT from its inception in the fall of 2014 will be ending later this year, but the program will be able to continue thanks to the efforts and the infrastructure that have already been put in place.

“We plan to continue teaching, and we plan to continue our consultations. We have reached out to more than 200 clinicians throughout the state, and they know that we are here to work with them,” Dr. Escude said.