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Notice of Ending Face-to-Face Competency Evaluations

Dear Judges, Sheriffs, County Jail Administrators and Public Defenders:

As we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) aims to continue vital behavioral health services while minimizing the risk of infection for patients and staff. We want to provide information to you regarding current admission processes and evaluations of pretrial detainees.

We want to inform you that OBH is stopping face-to-face court-ordered competency evaluations. We are working with jails to acquire equipment needed for tele-evaluation capacities to conduct all competency evaluations. While we finalize the implementation of tele-evaluations, attorneys or jail staff may contact Lori Carter at the Court Services Department at to refer pretrial detainees ordered for competency services in immediate need for hospitalization to be evaluated. 

All pretrial detainees are medically cleared prior to admission to CMHIP/RISE programs. As you are aware, our medical clearance includes a review of the following information you send to the admissions team for review including medical documentation, influenza and strep swab results, and pregnancy test results (if applicable). Also, as a result of COVID-19 our medical clearance will include additional screening using a CDC-guided screening tool, which includes taking vitals, asking questions and approval by the medical provider.  

The department is triaging and prioritizing the admissions of the most acute individuals (you might know this as Tier I). Pretrial detainees are admitted in cohorts and monitored for symptoms for 14 days in compliance with and direction of CDC and CDPHE. 

In the event Tier 1 or those pretrial detainees who are recommended by the forensic navigator cannot be medically cleared, telehealth provider-to-provider consultation will be offered to jails. This will include:
a.    Initial consultation
b.    Follow-up consultation

Consultation will be provided until such time that the pretrial detainee court ordered for competency is either admitted to a CDHS facility, bonded out, or considered to be psychiatrically stable by both providers, or charges are dropped. 

All pretrial detainees waiting to be admitted to a CDHS facility will continue to be monitored by Forensic Navigators at a minimum of once a week.

Thank you for your assistance and for your hard work during this time,

Robert Werthwein
Director, Office of Behavioral Health
Colorado Department of Human Services
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