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Milwaukee County Sheriff: ‘Historic’ NCCHC Accreditation Marks Jail’s ‘Transformation’

Sheriff Earnell R. Lucas of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, gave a press conference on May 18 marking the news that the Milwaukee County Jail had earned NCCHC accreditation for health services. His remarks follow.

“I am truly pleased to be part of this historic day, this historic announcement, that the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the Milwaukee County Jail have achieved accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care for achieving excellence in accordance with NCCHC’s standards for health care in jails. In achieving this outstanding recognition NCCHC recognizes Milwaukee County Jail’s strict adherence to high standards and best practices in correctional health care. In addition, NCCHC recognizes our strong commitment to delivering the high level of service to the people of Milwaukee County that have become the hallmark of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

“The blue-ribbon National Commission on Correctional Health Care is the industry leader in establishing policy and setting standards for health care services in correctional facilities. Its origin dates to the 1970s when the American Medical Association found health care standards lacking in correctional facilities in our country. Their policies and guidance have helped correctional facilities like the Milwaukee County Jail enhance our health care capabilities, increase efficiency of health care service delivery, and improve the health outcomes of those persons entrusted to our care and returning to our community.

“Out of several thousand correctional facilities nationwide, fewer than 500 have attained NCCHC accreditation. That ranks the Milwaukee County Jail with less than 10% of all correctional institutions in the country to earn this recognition. That is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

“To attain this distinction, the Milwaukee County Jail collaborated with NCCHC to help improve our health care services delivery. Throughout the process, leaders in the correctional field, medical, legal, and administrative joined together to offer recommendations and see them through to implementation. In March of this year, NCCHC [surveyors] conducted an intensive on-site inspection of our health care operation and in late April, NCCHC acknowledged the dedication and commitment of our staff by awarding accreditation to the Milwaukee County Jail.

“This is an achievement years in the making, years that have been filled, from start to finish, with outstanding efforts on the part of the men and women who work in the Milwaukee County Jail. Some of those exceptional public servants are here with us today. Still more are busy working in our jail, such as the correctional officers who we ask, each day, to be at their best when the population they are caring for are not, the doctors, nurses, and medical assistants who care for those same individuals, and the psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors who are concerned for the well-being of one of our community’s most vulnerable populations. Their combined efforts have helped transform our facility from one notorious for its shortcomings to one that we can proudly say meets the highest national standards of correctional health care.

“Transformation of the Milwaukee County Jail does not happen over night, nor does it take place in a vacuum. It requires years of painstaking analysis and in some instances, split-second decisions. And it’s happening as Milwaukee County and our country grapple with the greatest public health emergency we have faced in over 100 years, making this achievement all the more remarkable.

Though we have achieved this important milestone in our journey of transforming the Milwaukee County Jail, we have not reached the end point. The sheriff’s office and our partners know that there is still a lot of work ahead if Milwaukee County is to achieve its goal of becoming the healthiest county in the state.

“As Milwaukee County Sheriff, I am committed to ensuring that everyone entrusted to our care is treated with dignity and respect and receives the best medical services available. Today’s achievement recognizes that the dedicated correctional professionals of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office have spared no effort in transforming the Milwaukee County Jail into a facility that recognizes the dignity and worth of everyone, and it stands as testament to the exemplary performance and partnership with Milwaukee County’s health care provider, Wellpath.

“I thank all of those who are here today and all our partners who have helped make this journey possible. Let me thank our Medical Director
Dr. Enid Trotman, Health Services Administrator Jessica Jones, Inspector Aaron Dobson, Captain William Duckert, and our entire staff for their work and dedication to helping restore honor, integrity, and trust in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office.

“By achieving the high honor of accreditation from NCCHC we live up to our creed, that we are held to a high honor, and we ought to be proud. Thank you very much.”

Watch the sheriff’s press conference here.

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