Dr. Christopher Heckman is currently a member of the Clinical Operations Advisory Council (COAC) for the California Department of State Hospitals. The Clinical Operations Division facilitates the development, evaluation, and maintenance of clinical standards for California’s Department of State Hospitals (DSH).
At the heart of the DSH Clinical Operations Division is the Clinical Operations Advisory Council (COAC), an interdisciplinary team of clinicians from the state hospitals who are devoted to the quality of clinical care and therapeutic services that the DSH provides. Dr. Heckman represents the Department of Psychiatry on the COAC.
COAC works closely with clinical leaders to identify best practices within DSH facilities, as well as facilities outside of California and in the current academic literature. While conducting onsite reviews of clinical services, COAC gathers data to design data collection methodologies. These methodologies are used to better understand our patients, identify patterns and trends, and create tools for mentoring clinical staff.
The process supports the Clinical Operations Division’s “ground up” change model where executive level decision making is based on input from unit staff at each facility. It also assists the department in identifying, designing, and developing training programs based on the facilities’ needs.
Prior to joining COAC, Dr. Heckman was a Senior Psychiatrist, Supervisor, for Coalinga State Hospital (DSH-Coalinga) and continues to provide direct patient care at DSH-Coalinga. He was also a staff psychiatrist prior to his senior role and part of the telepsychiatry program. He provided forensic services and expert testimony.
Dr. Heckman joined the Department of State Hospital in 2010, as a staff psychiatrist for Metropolitan State Hospital as an attending psychiatrist for an admission unit, Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) conservatorship units, and a specialized unit utilizing Dialectic Behavioral Therapy. He also administered Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to patients who benefited from the treatment.
Dr. Heckman was born and raised in Southern California and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, for his bachelor’s degree. He graduated from Chicago Medical School in 1999 and returned to California for his residency training at the University of California, Los Angeles.
After residency, Dr. Heckman began his psychiatric career with Pacific Clinics, which is California’s largest community-based nonprofit provider of behavioral and mental health services and supports. After a few years, he was promoted to Medical Director of the West Valley Region where he continued to work up until his transition to the Department of State Hospitals.
Dr. Heckman also worked part time for several years with a private practice group, San Marino Psychiatric Associates, and was a speaker for both Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Heckman was an Associative Professor for both Western University and Ross University medical students. Additionally, he became certified as a Qualified Medical Examiner in 2008 and continues to provide QME services.