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Review of medical services in Delaware prisons calls the system 'siloed'

Delaware Public Media

ChristianaCare is making its recommendations to the state after a review of health care quality in Delaware’s prison system. 

A 15-member ChristianaCare team performed site visits at all level IV and V facilities in the state. It also conducted interviews with DOC staff and contracted medical personnel over a six-week period at no cost to the public. 

The health system’s final 16-page report describes Delaware’s correctional health care system as “siloed,” and points to a persistently high turnover rate with numerous vacancies among its providers.

It makes eight main recommendations, mostly relating to leadership restructuring and new communication strategies among front line health care providers. 

“The medical team has become too siloed from the behavioral health team, the medical team has become too siloed from the bureau, the medical team has become too siloed, in some instances, perhaps, from the leadership of the facility,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. “So we have to break down those siloes.” 

The report also says the prison system’s five-year-old medical record system is inadequate and needs to be replaced. DeMatteis says that’s the only proposed fix that would require an increase to the department's budget. She adds she expects to request a $3-5 million budget increase from Delaware’s General Assembly for an upgraded records system. 

“This isn’t the first time we’ve heard our electronic medical records aren’t necessarily helping,” said DeMatteis. “This report is very critical. I think they basically say they are electronic medical records in name only.” 

DeMatteis says the DOC will begin work on addressing the report’s recommendations at the start of the new year. The contract for the DOC’s medical provider Connections is up in June. That contract is out to bid.

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