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Department of Corrections Medical Unit Receives First National Accreditation in 25-Year History

Thursday, December 13, 2001

DC Department of Corrections’ Director Odie Washington is announcing the national accreditation of the medical and mental health operations at the Central Detention Facility (DC Jail). This marks the first time in the facility’s 25-year history that these services have been nationally accredited.

Corrections’ officials received notification of the accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in Chicago, Illinois. This milestone successfully acknowledges the significant improvements in the delivery of medical and mental health services to inmates at the facility. The accreditation process documents criteria for enhancing conditions of confinement, ensures the provision of an efficient and well-managed system for providing health care services, reduces the probability of litigation, and helps protect the agency’s financial assets by decreasing the likelihood of adverse medical occurrences.

"Through this process, we have proven our ability to provide quality medical and mental health care services for our inmate population that exceeds constitutional standards," said Director Washington. "This accreditation represents a major step in the challenging journey to mold the city’s detention center into the model of a municipal jail operation," Director Washington added.

Achieving accreditation was an arduous process conducted in four (4) phases over a seven-month period. The application phase, which presented demographic information on the inmates at the detention facility as well as information about the center’s infrastructure, initiated the process. The second phase continued with responses to a 40-page self-survey questionnaire and summary. Phase three consisted of a five-member on-site survey evaluation involving an assessment of medical records, human resources files, and medical policies and procedures; and culminated with the official accreditation pronouncement.

Stanley T. Harper, MD, the facility’s medical director, attributes the success of the accreditation to a collaborative effort between the Department of Corrections and the program service provider, the Center for Correctional Health and Policy Studies, Inc. (CCHPS). "Accreditation would have been difficult to achieve without the correctional leadership and commitment on the part of Director Washington and the DC Department of Corrections," said Dr. Harper, "We are now in a position to say that these health services are second to none."

NCCHC accreditation is recognized as the gold standard for jail health care programs. The accreditation culminates a number of recent accomplishments toward improving health care services to inmates at the Central Detention Facility. In July 2001, the Department announced that significant cost savings were realized in the first year of the Jail’s medical/mental health privatization contract. In September 2000, the Department of Corrections successfully ended the medical receivership and the 30-year medical/mental health Court oversight at the Jail.