Q&A with Jeremy Jackson, Clinical Services Division Manager

Search is excited to announce the appointment of Jeremy Jackson as our new Clinical Services Division Manager! Jeremy has worked at Search for three years as a manager in our Supported Living Program. He brings eight years of experience in working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness to his position. Jeremy has a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Western Michigan University and is currently working on obtaining a nursing degree.

Search INK conducted a Q&A with Jeremy to find out more about the Clinical Services department at Search.

Q: Could you describe the Clinical Services Department at Search? What does the department do? Who provides the services?

A: Clinical Services at Search provides medical and behavioral health services for the people we serve, including individuals in both our Adult Learning and Supported Living programs. Something that’s unique about Search is that we have our own medical clinics located within two of our sites – our flagship Adult Learning site in Mt. Prospect and our Adult Learning site in Lincoln Square, Chicago.

We like to describe our medical clinics as a “one stop shop.” Search’s team of nurses works with outside providers to come into the clinic and provide primary care as well as specialized services like podiatry, physical therapy/occupational therapy, dentistry, and optometry to name just a few. On the behavioral health side, we provide individual and group therapy, individual and group psychiatry, and behavior analysis and counseling. Our counselors employ a wide range of therapies to best reach the people we serve.

Q: What’s the advantage on having an on-site clinic, rather than going out into the community for doctor’s appointments?

A: Search works with the same specialists who come back on a regular basis, which gives a higher continuity of care. This set up allows our individuals to build a relationship and trust with their doctors. Many of the individuals we serve have past experiences that lead them to distrust doctors and medical procedures, so trust is crucial in delivering effective and timely medical care.

Q: Tell me more about the medical services provided through our clinics…

A: Our individuals all have different levels of medical needs. Just a few examples of issues we commonly see are: diabetes, cardiac issues (including pacemakers), seizures, epilepsy, medications, high blood pressure/low blood pressure, and obesity.

Our three on-staff nurses are responsible for providing direct daily care to all of our individuals. Everything from headache medicine, to first aid for cuts and scrapes, administering injections, and handling emergencies - they do it all. In addition, the medical team also coordinates all of an individual’s care to ensure that necessary appointments and follow-ups happen. This includes overseeing medication, working with outside pharmacies, and coordinating with staff in Search’s 30+ group homes. The nurses also provide round the clock (24/7) phone support for any medical questions or emergencies that our staff or consumers may have.

Q: What kinds of behavioral health services are provided for the people we serve?

A: Search employs full time and part time licensed therapists, who are certified in social work and who travel to all of our Adult Learning sites. Therapy sessions cover all kinds of social and emotional issues that individuals may face. The themes of group sessions are determined quarterly based on the individual’s interests. Topics can include: dating, anger management, grief counseling, social awareness, abandonment, mindfulness, self-identification, and self-determination. Our therapists also use non-traditional therapeutic techniques like art therapy, movement therapy, “Doga” (dogs and yoga, together!), and horticulture.

Search also has behavior analysts who target specific “problem” behaviors that bring risk to an individual’s health, safety, and/or overall happiness. The behavior analysts work with an interdisciplinary team to develop “behavior replacement plans” that replace the unwanted behavior with something more positive.

Q: What kinds of special challenges or concerns are there in providing medical care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

A: There are two main challenges we face, that come up very frequently:

The first is that it’s very difficult to find medical providers that will accept Medicare/Medicaid. This is especially true for dental services and can result in traveling long distances to visit a dental ER for emergency tooth extractions or surgeries – or dealing with long waiting lists for basic services.

The second challenge is that there is still a widespread lack of understanding of how to interact with people with disabilities in the medical community. Many times when we take an individual to visit a doctor, the provider will be unsure of how to interact with our patient, which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. This behavior is the result of lack of exposure to people with disabilities.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: I would just like to thank and congratulate the Clinical Services team for their outstanding work and dedication!