Sheriff’s Office Earns Health Care Reaccreditation
May 20, 2016
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care has reaccredited the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office on the operation of the Adult Detention Center. NCCHC accreditation is a quality assurance process under which inmate health care services, programs and operations are evaluated by an external body. The Sheriff’s Office has been accredited by NCCHC since 1981. The reaccreditation process takes place every three years to ensure that the agency maintains compliance with the standards.
Sheriff Stacey Kincaid emphasizes that the accreditation process is voluntary. “We are committed to providing nationally recognized standards of health care delivery in our facility, which is why we choose to participate in the rigorous and challenging auditing process. The lead auditor noted that the quality and quantity of services we provide is far greater than what he has seen in facilities across the country.”
Vera Giles is the health services administrator in the ADC. “The auditing process measures compliance with federal and state regulations and more than 65 health care standards. Our medical team scored 100 percent on all essential standards and 96 percent on the highly recommended standards, which are phenomenal outcomes.”
Providing medical care for all inmates is of critical importance to the Sheriff’s Office. Medical staff are in the ADC 24/7. The team includes 28 licensed nurses, two nurse practitioners and a phlebotomist. A physician, dentist and optometrist are on contract. The ADC has onsite x-ray and diagnostic services, an infirmary, a pharmacy and several chronic care clinics for conditions including diabetes, hypertension, HIV and other special needs. A negative pressure room is available for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.
Correctional health care programs often are an extension of local public health systems. Inmates tend to have a lower economic status and are less educated, particularly in the area of health care. They have a disproportionately higher rate of infectious and chronic diseases than the general population. Therefore, inmates are likely to enter the jail with compromised health conditions.
As soon as a person is brought to the jail, he or she is seen by a nurse, who takes a complete health history and makes the appropriate referrals for physical and behavioral health care. Inmates also receive a complete physical within 14 days of their incarceration.
According to Giles, the inmate-patient caseload averages 650 per day. “We have six nurses per shift delivering medication to more than 60 percent of the inmate population. When an inmate submits a medical request form, our nurses respond within 24 hours. Our advanced practitioners respond within 48-72 hours as needed.”
If an inmate needs medical care beyond what can be rendered in the ADC, then City of Fairfax Fire and Rescue will transport the inmate to a local hospital. Sheriff’s deputies provide security during the transport and at the hospital for the duration of the stay.
“When they are booked into the jail and identified by health care staff as having a chronic condition, we begin discharge planning immediately to ensure continuity of care and a safe reintegration to the community,” said Giles. The Sheriff’s Office partners with the Fairfax County Health Department’s Community Health Care Network if an inmate requires continued health care upon release. “We also provide bridge medications until their next appointment with community providers,” added Giles.
Kincaid and Giles agree that the collaborative working relationship between the medical staff and the sheriff’s deputies is the key to success. “We have a very effective health care reporting and delivery system that ensures a safe and healthy environment,” said Kincaid.
In addition to the NCCHC accreditation, the Sheriff’s Office is accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, the Virginia Department of Corrections and the American Correctional Association.
For more information, please email the Sheriff’s Office.