Erie County Prison Exploring Telepsychiatry

When Erie County Prison inmates go to visit with a psychiatrist, some could soon be sitting down across from a computer screen.

The prison is exploring the possibility of offering telepsychiatry, a service that would use video conferencing to connect inmates with a psychiatrist working remotely.

The service would give Erie County Prison inmates access to a trained forensic psychiatrist, Keelin Garvey M.D., who would work with on-site staff to provide mental health care from Rhode Island, where she is based. It would also provide wider access to a specialist in the needs of prison inmates at a time when officials said the pool of psychiatrists who are trained in such work is limited.

Telepsychiatry would allow the prison to expand the mental health services it already offers, Deputy Warden Ron Bryant said. It would not replace existing, in-person mental health services, he said.