Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, Quality Correctional Health Care and the University of Alabama at Birmingham will present to the Alabama Department of Corrections a comprehensive plan to provide enhanced healthcare services for the 21,000 inmates housed in the state prison system.
In June 2017, a federal judge ruled that the mental health services currently provided in Alabama’s prisons are so poor that they amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. A still-pending portion of the same lawsuit alleges that the medical care in the state prisons is likewise inadequate. That claim will be tried in federal court soon.
QCHC and its staff have decades of experience and expertise in correctional medicine. UAB is the state’s largest healthcare provider and internationally recognized for quality. Together, the two organizations claim that they represent the best option for improving the state’s much-beleaguered inmate healthcare system.
Leading the team and presenting the plan to ADOC will be Dr. Johnny Bates, president and CEO of QCHC, who holds undergraduate and medical degrees from UAB, and Donald Lilly, senior vice president of UAB Health System.
“We are proud to team up with UAB to present a plan to fix a long-standing problem in this state of inadequate care in our state prisons,” Johnny Bates, CEO of QCHC, said. “We will apply new ideas and new resources to successfully tackle this problem, and serve as a model for other prison healthcare systems across the country.”
QCHC is an Alabama business with a team of Alabama-based partners, including UAB, Viva Health, IHS Pharmacy and others, which are seeking to replace the current ADOC healthcare provider.
UAB announced that its plans to participate in the development of certain specialty clinics to be delivered to inmates in the prisons, including dialysis, complex nephrology care, oral and maxillofacial surgery, radiology and optometric services provided by Callahan Eye Foundation.
UAB says that its commitment to using its robust telemedicine network to provide specialty care in DOC facilities far exceeds what is currently available on-site.
Viva Health announced that under this plan, it will apply managed care concepts to the state prison population to improve the efficiency of the care provided.
The UAB College of Arts and Sciences has agreed to partner with QCHC in an endeavor to change the delivery of inmate healthcare. They claim that targeted aid from four disciplines can greatly improve the care of inmates in Alabama. The Schools of Psychology, Criminal Justice, Social Work and Medical Sociology have agreed to partner with QCHC to provide analytic services, training and best practice guidelines. This program will be unprecedented in its scope and value to ADOC and the State of Alabama.
QCHC claims that through its innovative partnership with UAB, it can offer the inmates a depth of healthcare resources of unparalleled quality.
QCHC is headquartered in Birmingham and provides correctional healthcare services to over 12,000 inmates at approximately 60 jails and detention facilities in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a public research university and the only R1 – highest research activity – research institute in the state. UAB is the largest employer in the state. UAB Health System is one of the largest academic medical centers in the United States, is affiliated with the university and is internationally recognized for its quality healthcare.
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center has sued the Alabama Department of Corrections on behalf of some of the current and former inmates and alleges that the state’s mental health services, healthcare services, overcrowding and staffing are inadequate and that current conditions constitute an unconstitutional ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ The Court has already ruled that the mental health services ADOC provides are inadequate. Some state sources have told the Alabama Political Reporter that complying with the expected federal orders on mental healthcare, healthcare and staffing alone could cost the perennially cash strapped state general fund as much as an additional $100 million a year.