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Press Releases

MAYOR DE BLASIO UNVEILS NEW INITIATIVES TO TRANSFORM CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES

In nine months, NYC Health + Hospitals recruited new mission-driven physicians, nurses, mental health experts, social workers; adopted innovative Telehealth program; created assistance center to link recently released individuals and their families to health insurance and community based health centers

Next reforms include tripling intensive care mental health units; building 12 new mini clinics inside jails; expanding pre-arraignment screening and hepatitis c treatment

May 26, 2016

New York, NY
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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, today unveiled a comprehensive list of reforms the public health system has adopted over the last nine months. These reforms include the recruitment of new correctional health expert physicians, nurses, mental health providers and social workers; the first NYC jail-based Telehealth program that expands access to specialty physicians through audio and video consultations and reduces transportation time and costs; and a new assistance center where patients can sign up for health insurance and select a primary care doctor for follow up care in the community before they leave jail.
“New York City has taken great strides in reforming the criminal justice system, and today’s announcement demonstrate our unwavering commitment to providing one our most vulnerable populations with high-quality health services,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From our schools to our hospitals to our correctional system, every New Yorker in our city’s care deserves quality healthcare, and today’s accomplishments are a clear step in the right direction.”
Other reforms include new collaborations with the Department of Correction and labor partners to address safety and better manage patients; an organizational restructuring that centralizes operations to improve efficiencies, communications and accountability; a new psychiatric social work service that merges discharge planning and mental health staff for better coordination with community services; a new support group to help patients learn skills to ease reentering the community; and a new credentialing and licensing system to ensure every employee is qualified for the job.
“We took on the critical task of managing the city’s correctional health services with a clear resolve to bring equity and improve quality of care to the approximately 55,000 men and women who move through the system every year,” said Dr. Raju. “We have now built one unified correctional health team of experts who are uniquely focused on transforming the delivery of health care in our city’s jails and have adopted changes to better integrate medical and mental health care, better coordinate care between the hospitals and jail-based health services, and help the formerly incarcerated and their families to access health insurance and a doctor in their community.”
“Although the challenges of the transfer to NYC Health + Hospitals were complex, we did not want to miss an opportunity to begin building a framework for the new, improved approach to care for our patients in jail,” said Dr. Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals for Correctional Health Services. “I’m proud of all the work we have done in such a short time and I am confident that CHS will continue to be a leader in how health care is delivered to incarcerated persons.”
As part of the de Blasio administration’s commitment to reform the City’s correctional system, the Mayor reassigned the management of inmates’ health services to NYC Health + Hospitals in August, 2015. The transition was completed by January 1, 2016, following the expiration of the contract with Corizon, the for-profit company that previously operated health services in the jails. The transition of operations included a new governance structure, the budget transfer of $235 million and the interviews and background checks for 1,500 employees who provide 24/7, around-the-clock health care services in 12 jails across the city.
Since the Mayor’s announcement, NYC Health + Hospitals Correctional Health Services has put in place numerous strategic initiatives with a focus on six primary goals. Details about each initiative are included in the Progress Report.

Develop a Skilled, Mission-Driven Workforce

  • Appointed new administrative, clinical, and front line staff with strong backgrounds in medical, mental health, and social work services who have devoted their professional Bellevue careers to working in the field of correctional health
  • Expanded employee education and training program by establishing medical and mental health grand rounds and broadening collaborations with academic partners

Improve Operations and Organization Structure

  • Created new centralized Operations and Policy and Planning Department to improve efficiencies and accountability. These operations were previously spread between the NYC Department of Health and Corizon.
  • Established an unprecedented level of coordination through new daily, weekly and monthly meeting with senior Department of Correction staff and NYC Health + Hospitals correctional health team to plan, problem solve and discuss the most pressing issues surrounding challenging patients, safety and patient production
  • Established new psychiatric social work service that merges previously separate mental health and discharge planning operations to better integrate assessment of mental health needs and community resources to address them.
  • Built new employee credentialing, licensing and security clearance system to ensure every individual worker is qualified for the job.

Enhance Safety for Patients and Staff

  • Conducted first-ever safety survey of clinical space in the jail system and created a baseline for necessary improvements.
  • Convened pioneering new Workplace Safety Committee structure that meets regularly to continue to identify concerns and help ensure a safer work environment.

Improve Continuity and Access to Care by Leveraging NYC Health + Hospitals Programs and Services

  • Launched the first-ever Telehealth pilot within NYC Health + Hospitals that expands access to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue physicians via audio-visual technology and reduces costly travel time for hospital-based specialty consults.
  • Established brand new NYC Health + Hospitals MetroPlusHealth health insurance enrollment station at the Benjamin Ward Visitors Center.
  • Created “one-stop” Assistance Center where patients and families can enroll in MetroPlusHealth health plan, be assigned a primary care team at an NYC Health + Hospitals Gotham Health center, and get connected to the NYC Health + Hospitals Health Home program that offers individualized care coordination services.

Expand Successful Programs and Services

  • Will open two additional Program for Accelerating Clinical Effectiveness (PACE) units each year for the next four years to care for seriously mentally ill with $2.1 million in FY17, ramping up to $10.2 million by FY20.
  • Will expand from one shift to 24/7 coverage to conduct health screening and assessments for medical and mental health issues at the Manhattan Detention Center with $2.7 million in FY17 and each year thereafter.
  • Will expand provision of a drug regimen that cures Hepatitis C with $2.5 million in FY17, ramping up to $5 million in the following years.
  • Will open more mini-clinics near jail housing areas to bring health services closer to where people are with $1.2 million in capital funding.
  • Will expand the Telehealth pilot with $650,000 in capital funding to include psychiatric consultations and connections to other NYC Health + Hospital facilities to further increase access to care and reduce the need for disruptive patient transportation.

“The Mayor has done something truly amazing. This transformation of the correctional health services will eliminate a lot of the undiagnosed problems the inmates have. This announcement ‎puts New York City on the right path to positively rehabilitate inmates into society. Thank you Mayor Bill de Blasio,” said Deacon Ruth Corbett, Servant Leader of Turning Point Counseling Ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church.
“This is important news for New York City. The number of the city’s incarcerated emotionally disturbed poor persons is an indictment against economic and social policies of the recent past. Tripling intensive care mental health units and building a dozen new mini-clinics inside city’s jails benefits men and women in desperate need of treatment and care,” said Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘ Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.
“‎Whether or not a person engages in criminal activity, it is inhuman to condone a penal system that does not provide quality basic physical and mental health needs. As an advocate for human justice, I applaud the efforts of Mayor de Blasio to correct these health deficiencies in New York City’s jails,” said Lady Tania Michael, Former Health + Hospitals Corporation Social Worker/CEO of Tania Michael Ministries.
“The City of New York and Health + Hospitals inherited a challenging environment at Rikers, and we commend the Mayor’s Office for tackling much-needed reforms and working to improve the patient care experience. Today’s announcement addresses some of the most critical aspects of patient care – adequate staffing, safety and discharge planning. As the union for the frontline doctors, we know the dedicated physicians and dentists working in the correctional health system look forward to continuing to work with management and partnering with City agencies to lead change together, specifically related to improving quality patient care in the City’s jails. Participating in the successful implementation of high-priority joint patient care improvement initiatives has been our mission in the public hospital system through our participation in the Collaboration Councils,” said Frank Proscia, M.D., President, Doctors Council SEIU.
“As a retired corrections officer the health and well-being of the inmates I protected always came first. The Mayor’s effort to improve access to better health services makes the transition from incarceration better for the inmates and the community,” said Retired Correction Officer, Willie Johnson III.


Contact: pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov, 212-788-2958

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