Expanding health care to everyone
Ground was broken last October on a $48 million medical and mental health infirmary in the North Tower of Lew Sterrett Justice Center at Dallas County Jail.
The 139,000-square-foot infirmary, set for completion by the summer of 2014, is aimed at improving overall quality of correctional health care and access to health services for patients with specialized needs among the nearly 6,500 inmates, according to Colleen Eickmeier, Parkland’s director of special projects and programs at the jail.
Planning for the project has been an ongoing collaboration between Parkland, the Dallas Sherriff’s Department and Dallas County since 2006, when Parkland became responsible for health care at the jail. Parkland has implemented continuous improvements in the facility and has overcome challenges with infrastructure to establish clinical spaces to meet the needs of the patients.
The new state-of-the-art infirmary will expand on-site acute care, outpatient care and mental health services. Parkland currently provides health screenings for all inmates upon entering the jail, mental health care, pharmacy services, chronic medical care, HIV care and annual TB testing.
“It is important Parkland provide health care to those who are incarcerated. As inmates enter and exit the jail system, their health, in turn, affects that of the community. The public health impact is great. The new infirmary marks a turning point for not only inmate health but for the well-being of Dallas,” explained Sharon Phillips, RN, Executive Vice President and Interim Chief Operations Officer, Ambulatory and Behavioral Health.
By Cortney Strube