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Correctional healthcare chief retires after 29 years of service to Delaware

Department of Correction | Date Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015



Dover – Today the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) commended James Welch, Chief of the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, who retires May 31st from his position after 29 years of service to the State of Delaware. Welch, a registered nurse, joined the DOC in November, 2005 as Health Services Administrator and, as the Department’s first full-time medically-trained employee he was tasked with providing oversight to its prisons’ day-to-day medical and behavioral health operations that are carried out by vendors on a contract basis. In 2009, Welch was appointed Chief of the newly-established Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, which over the past six years has grown to a staff of 14 healthcare professionals who are responsible for ensuring that 400 contract medical personnel deliver healthcare services to 7,000 inmates. Welch joined the DOC following a 20-year tenure directing the HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs for the state Division of Public Health.

“Chief Welch has had an immeasurable positive impact on the healthcare provided to our inmate population,” Commissioner Robert Coupe said today. “Jim came to DOC in 2005 during a time of intense scrutiny of our state’s correctional healthcare, and during his 10 years with the DOC he and his team have transformed a substandard medical system into one that today is a model for correctional systems across the country. I am grateful for Jim’s professional leadership and his tireless personal dedication to the health and wellbeing of every member of our community.”

Welch’s initial appointment and his subsequent leadership of the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services were part of the DOC’s efforts to improve medical care amid allegations of inadequate healthcare for inmates and a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a December, 2006 agreement with federal authorities the DOC committed to taking specific actions to improve those services and to allow a federal monitor to closely watch and evaluate the state’s progress. Under the leadership of Chief Welch, DOC made immediate and substantial progress through a collaboration with the federal government, medical and mental health professionals and DOC’s healthcare service providers to improve conditions and within two years earned a rating of “substantially compliant” in many of the 216 improvement areas identified in the agreement. In 2012, the DOC was released from that agreement, but has continued to invest in enhanced healthcare services for offenders.

Through the stewardship of Chief Welch the DOC developed and implemented Electronic Health Records to improve the efficiency and coordination of the delivery of medical services for the inmate population and expanded the use of individual assessments of and treatment programs for mental health and substance use disorder. Additionally, under his direction the DOC has earned compliance with the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare and the DOC is currently working to secure initial accreditation of its medical standards as part of a Department-wide accreditation through the American Correctional Association.

This year the DOC will spend $59 million on inmate healthcare, including more than $8 million in pharmaceutical costs alone – an expenditure that accounts for 21% of the Department’s $277 million operating budget. Over the past ten 10 years Delaware correctional healthcare spending has doubled, from just under $30 million in 2005 to nearly $60 million this year.

Jim will remain in Delaware where he lives in Sussex County with his partner of 36 years, Ivo. The Department is expected to announce the selection of the next Bureau Chief of Correctional Healthcare Services in the coming weeks.

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Correctional healthcare chief retires after 29 years of service to Delaware

Department of Correction | Date Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015



Dover – Today the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) commended James Welch, Chief of the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, who retires May 31st from his position after 29 years of service to the State of Delaware. Welch, a registered nurse, joined the DOC in November, 2005 as Health Services Administrator and, as the Department’s first full-time medically-trained employee he was tasked with providing oversight to its prisons’ day-to-day medical and behavioral health operations that are carried out by vendors on a contract basis. In 2009, Welch was appointed Chief of the newly-established Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, which over the past six years has grown to a staff of 14 healthcare professionals who are responsible for ensuring that 400 contract medical personnel deliver healthcare services to 7,000 inmates. Welch joined the DOC following a 20-year tenure directing the HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs for the state Division of Public Health.

“Chief Welch has had an immeasurable positive impact on the healthcare provided to our inmate population,” Commissioner Robert Coupe said today. “Jim came to DOC in 2005 during a time of intense scrutiny of our state’s correctional healthcare, and during his 10 years with the DOC he and his team have transformed a substandard medical system into one that today is a model for correctional systems across the country. I am grateful for Jim’s professional leadership and his tireless personal dedication to the health and wellbeing of every member of our community.”

Welch’s initial appointment and his subsequent leadership of the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services were part of the DOC’s efforts to improve medical care amid allegations of inadequate healthcare for inmates and a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a December, 2006 agreement with federal authorities the DOC committed to taking specific actions to improve those services and to allow a federal monitor to closely watch and evaluate the state’s progress. Under the leadership of Chief Welch, DOC made immediate and substantial progress through a collaboration with the federal government, medical and mental health professionals and DOC’s healthcare service providers to improve conditions and within two years earned a rating of “substantially compliant” in many of the 216 improvement areas identified in the agreement. In 2012, the DOC was released from that agreement, but has continued to invest in enhanced healthcare services for offenders.

Through the stewardship of Chief Welch the DOC developed and implemented Electronic Health Records to improve the efficiency and coordination of the delivery of medical services for the inmate population and expanded the use of individual assessments of and treatment programs for mental health and substance use disorder. Additionally, under his direction the DOC has earned compliance with the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare and the DOC is currently working to secure initial accreditation of its medical standards as part of a Department-wide accreditation through the American Correctional Association.

This year the DOC will spend $59 million on inmate healthcare, including more than $8 million in pharmaceutical costs alone – an expenditure that accounts for 21% of the Department’s $277 million operating budget. Over the past ten 10 years Delaware correctional healthcare spending has doubled, from just under $30 million in 2005 to nearly $60 million this year.

Jim will remain in Delaware where he lives in Sussex County with his partner of 36 years, Ivo. The Department is expected to announce the selection of the next Bureau Chief of Correctional Healthcare Services in the coming weeks.

# # #

image_printPrint

Related Topics:  


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.