Bernard P. Harrison Award of Merit


NCCHC’s highest honor, this award is presented to an individual or group that has demonstrated excellence and service that has advanced the correctional health care field, either through an individual project or a history of service. The award is named after NCCHC’s cofounder and first president.

Newton Kendig

RADM Newton E. Kendig, MD

For visionary leadership in the field of correctional health care

Over the course of his illustrious career, Rear Adm. Newton Kendig, MD, has proved to be one of the country’s foremost experts on correctional health care. The Bernard P. Harrison Award of Merit joins the many other awards he has received, including the U.S. Public Health Service’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.

As medical director for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and assistant director for its health services division, Dr. Kendig is responsible for the medical care, food services and occupational health and safety of inmates in the nation’s largest correctional system, the BOP’s 121 institutions. He also provides oversight for more than 850 commissioned officers, 3,800 health care providers and a staff of nearly 40,000 people working in those facilities.

He ensures the delivery of medically necessary health care and nutritionally sound meals to an inmate population of 210,000, as well as securing safe living and working conditions for inmates and staff. In meeting those responsibilities, he is both a meticulous manager and a visionary leader. The lengthy list of his contributions to the field illustrates his commitment to quality health care and innovation.

Dr. Kendig has taken an active role in improving clinical care for inmates: he expanded pharmacists’ role in patient care, implemented a primary care provider team model that assigns patients to a specific provider and ensures continuity of care, and designed a clinical director peer review program that strengthened the BOP’s physician workforce. Under his watch, the BOP published comprehensive clinical practice guidelines and a national drug formulary that broadly define the scope of health care services for federal inmates and are widely adopted by state correctional systems. He established BOP centers of excellence, resulting in improved clinical care for the sickest inmates; developed a systemwide infection control program; changed federal policy allowing inmates access to organ transplantation; and implemented a comprehensive preventive health care program for inmates.

His contributions range from structural enhancements (establishment of the National Health Care Governing Board and the Mental Health Clinical Care Committee) to technological advances (the launch of a Web-based medical and pharmacy record system in 2009, before electronic health records were widespread, and expanded telehealth programming to include telepsychiatry) and nutritional improvements (adoption of a BOP national menu, which improved nutrition for inmates and staff).

Before joining the BOP in 1996 as chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Kendig was medical director of the Maryland Department of Corrections and Public Safety. In 1999, he was tapped to be the BOP medical director, and in 2006 he was named assistant director of the health services division.

He has shared his visionary perspective and expertise with NCCHC conference attendees on topics including “The State of Correctional Health Care at the End of the Millennium” and “What Correctional Health Will Need From Its Leaders in 2019 and Beyond,” as well as the keynote address at the 2015 National Conference on Correctional Health Care.