Health and Hospitals Corporation To Run City Correctional Health Service

June 10, 2015

NEW YORK—As part of the de Blasio administration’s commitment to reform the city’s correctional system, the Mayor today announced that the City will return the management of correctional health services to the Health and Hospitals Corporation and will not renew contracts with Corizon, Inc. and Damian Family Care Centers, Inc after their expiration.

“We have an essential responsibility to provide every individual in our City’s care with high-quality health services – and our inmates are no different,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This transfer to HHC will give our administration direct control and oversight of our inmates’ health services – furthering our goal of improving the quality and continuity of healthcare for every inmate in City custody.”

HHC, New York City’s premier public health care provider, will be solely accountable for the quality of care provided to the approximately 70,000 people moving through the correctional system each year and the coordination and continuity of services to people during and after incarceration. The decision derives from an extensive review by an interagency team formed in the fall of 2014 to explore new strategies for organizing and delivering health care in the New York City jail system. The task force included the Mayor’s Office, DOHMH, DOC, HHC, Law Department and OMB. The City anticipates a seamless continuation of services and an orderly transition of services and staff completed by December 2015 and August 2016 – the expiration dates of the current contracts with Corizon and Damian, respectively. As is the case with all of its other operations, HHC will engage its nonprofit affiliates in the provision of patient care services.

HHC is the largest public health care delivery system in the nation, and is widely recognized for its quality and culturally-responsive services. HHC’s new role as manager of correctional health services will provide the following benefits to inmates and recently-released individuals:

  • Continuity of Care: Better coordination of care between hospital and jail-based health services, and access to HHC’s geographically convenient primary care centers to improve continuity of care after release.
  • Integration of Physical and Behavioral Health Services: More seamless coordination between the physical and behavioral health services – which ensures a holistic approach to care for patients.
  • Direct, Public Accountability: As a public entity, HHC is more accountable, more transparent and held to higher standards of care by the Mayor, its Board, and the City of New York.

The change in management will not result in staffing reductions or layoffs for DOHMH workers. Almost 300 DOHMH employees currently working on correctional health services will transfer to HHC payroll in August 2015. These staffers provide services ranging from information technology to discharge planning and other work essential to ensuring continuity of operations during the change. All current employees of Corizon and Damian – approximately 1,200 individuals – will be subject to comprehensive background checks, credential reviews, and evaluations of prior performance.

This change represents a transfer of services from one agency to another, including the existing budget for all of correctional health services, and the City does not anticipate any budget reductions. This transfer will occur through a Memorandum of Understanding between HHC and DOHMH. The DOHMH’s budget for correctional health services is approximately $225 million FY15, which includes the Corizon contract of approximately $154 million and the Damian contract of approximately $8 million. Additional costs for correctional health services will be determined after the operation is transferred and stabilized, at which point HHC will assess operational and capital needs to bring about improvements in quality of care.

“We are conducting an in-depth review of the current operations, developing a plan that strengthens the integration of physical and behavioral health care provided to individuals while they are incarcerated, and ensuring continuity of services upon their return to the community,” said HHC President and CEO Dr. Ram Raju. “HHC has an important opportunity to improve New York City’s correctional health services, and we look forward to taking on this critical work on behalf of the City.”

“The Mayor and I have said from the beginning that we need to bring real, lasting reform to the city’s jails – and moving healthcare services to HHC represents another strong step in our top-to-bottom reform of our city’s correctional system. In the months to come, we will work closely with Dr. Raju and the HHC team to provide a smooth and successful transition for our inmates and correctional officers alike,” said DOC Commissioner Joe Ponte.

“As the public safety net healthcare system in New York City, the Health and Hospitals Corporation is well positioned to deliver high-quality care to all the patients in our City’s criminal justice system,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department will continue to promote the health of this vulnerable population and their communities across the city.”

“I am extremely pleased that the de Blasio administration has confirmed it will not renew its contract with Corizon, and will transfer these responsibilities to HHC. Over the past year, the City Council’s Committee on Health has worked hard to uncover the true state of health care at Rikers Island. This culminated with the passage of my legislation on May 27 that will increase transparency by requiring quarterly reports by DOHMH on the state of health care in our correctional facilities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “I would like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, my colleagues on the Health Committee, DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, HHC President Dr. Ram Raju and the many advocates who are working to improve health care delivery to all New Yorkers."

“The decision not to renew Corizon’s contract is a critical first step away from profiteering that callously put lives and well-being at risk, and toward a system that satisfies New York City’s fundamental constitutional obligation to provide adequate care and treatment for those individuals incarcerated at Rikers,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The New York Civil Liberties Union will be closely watching upcoming plans for creating a sound health care system on Rikers, and those plans must be accompanied by aggressive efforts to reduce the overall population at Rikers, including diverting those with the serious mental health and medical care needs away from incarceration and into more appropriate treatment settings."

“We’re pleased to hear that the City is discontinuing the use of Corizon and making other arrangements for providing medical care in the jails. Medical care has been a major source of complaints from our clients in jail, and they complain about the care they get from Corizon. We think many of those complaints are amply justified. It is especially appropriate to make this change with respect to mental health care, since the City is attempting to improve mental health treatment in the jails, including implementing multi-disciplinary crisis intervention teams, and Corizon has a track record of failing to provide effective treatment delivery in the jails,” said Director of Legal Aid’s Prisoners’ Rights Project John Boston.


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