A move away from private prisons doesn’t mean moving away from private correctional healthcare

A move away from private prisons doesn’t mean moving away from private correctional healthcare

Karey Witty, CEO

The US Department of Justice recently announced plans to phase out the use of private prisons in the federal system. This was shortly followed by an announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that it too is considering ending its contracts with companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group to operate immigrant detention centers.

These decisions are not targeting correctional healthcare providers, or specifically Corizon Health’s contracts.

Anti-privatization advocates tend to paint all correctional contractors and vendors with the same broad brush, arguing government should not outsource its fundamental duties. However, most people would agree the provision of healthcare is not a core competency of corrections and law enforcement agencies.

Indeed, with the increasing complexity of correctional healthcare and the tight budgets under which state and local corrections departments operate, few public health agencies are willing to take on these services. Even hospital systems, once a strong competitor in some local markets, are less likely to bid to provide inmate medical services. Corizon Health, as a private expert provider of correctional healthcare services, is in the unique position to fill this public health need. So even though we are a private company, we are providing a necessary public service.

Our clients, however, are governmental agencies that are ultimately accountable to elected officials – governors, sheriffs, mayors, and county and city commissioners – who are ultimately accountable to their voters. This creates a highly political environment in which the public’s perception of us as a company, or our industry as whole, can have tremendous ramifications on our ability to retain and win contracts. We will achieve success by providing VALUE to our clients.

Living our SMART values – Safety, Motivation, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork – consistently across all of our contracts and throughout our entire organization provides us our best opportunity to show our value as key partners in the vital services our clients must provide. When we each make the safety of our patients and each other our priority, are motivated to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities, are accountable for our actions, show respect for our patients and each other, and work as a team, we need not worry about political trends or the competition because our clients will know and appreciate the value we provide, and we will know we’ve provided our patients the best care.

For those on the frontlines of healthcare delivery, our core process program embodies our SMART values. This set of standardized protocols is based on national standards and developed from the exceptional experience of our clinical and operational leaders at all levels of the company. It reflects the unmatched depth of knowledge that exists across our organization.

Since joining Corizon Health as your CEO, it has been my priority to ensure that every healthcare professional at every one of our sites clearly understands and has the resources available to consistently follow our core processes. Healthcare Support and regional staff members have been attending retraining sessions at our office in Brentwood, Tennessee, to prepare them to conduct training for those staffing our facilities.

As our regional leaders return to deliver the core process training to our facility teams, we are asking each site to take a close look at their actual performance compared to the performance expectations defined in the core process program.  If the core processes are delivered as defined, each facility will perform to expectation.  As industry leaders we must never be satisfied.  We must continually monitor our performance to ensure we are performing at optimal levels and seek ways to continually improve the efforts in each facility.

This continued monitoring will ensure that we maintain our performance expectations.  When we are consistent in expectation and performance, we will attain the level of success we all desire – positive patient outcomes, employee satisfaction, reduced turnover rates and client satisfaction.

So far, the feedback from employees across the board has been very positive, and many expressed how standardized core processes make their jobs easier and more consistent.

Far from a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare delivery, our core processes are similar to a pilot’s pre-flight check list. By methodically and consistently checking all of the parts that make the airplane fly, the pilot ensures the safety of themselves and their passengers and is free to enjoy the art of flying. Likewise, following core processes helps us avoid missing crucial information about our patients’ health needs. It protects our patients’ safety and allows our clinicians to clearly and holistically see the needs of each individual patient and practice the art of medicine.

While I have little doubt the need for private correctional healthcare providers will continue and grow into the future, retaining our leadership role in this industry challenges us to continually demonstrate our value to our clients. I cannot promise you that adhering to core processes will stop the demoralizing accusations you may read about in the newspaper or see on television, but I am positive that demonstrating exceptional performance will give small, but vocal groups less influence over the decisions of our clients.

It simply is not enough for us to be as good as our competitors. As the longest-standing and largest correctional healthcare provider, we must be the industry leader and our core processes help us retain that top spot.

by: Karey Witty, CEO