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Maintaining Hampden County's Correctional Public Health Model

Candidate for Sheriff knows the formula for success, first-hand

The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has implemented a Public Health Model for Correctional Health Care that has been awarded an Innovations in American Government Award.

Nick Cocchi, while representing the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Department at the National Institute of Corrections conferences in Colorado recently, fielded several questions about this innovative Public Health Model from interested Correctional administrators.

“Correctional Departments from across the country look to the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department for innovative Correctional solutions. This program includes comprehensive medical and mental health services linking inmates to the community from which they came and to which they return. The accolades and interest from other Departments all over America made me so proud of the men and women of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department who do this hard work,” said Cocchi.

“This is about the health of the inmates and protecting the health of the general public whom we serve. Importantly, this model provides for the health of the inmate and protects the rest of the community from a public health viewpoint by treating communicable diseases and mental health conditions, by focusing on early detection/assessment, health education, prevention, and continuity of care,” said Cocchi

The program is staffed by teams of dedicated health care professionals from the Sheriff’s Department, four Health Centers/Clinics in the community that are made up of Clinic Teams staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses who work collaboratively.

These teams are designed to maintain continuity of health care with the inmates while they are incarcerated and later upon their release into our communities, which is facilitated by utilizing an integration of databases and sharing of health record information, where allowed.

Depending upon the neighborhood that the individual resided in, and that person’s zip code, that inmate is assigned a specific Clinic Team that meets with them regularly in conjunction with facility health care providers while incarcerated. Also, that same team, including many of the same providers, is available to treat that patient at their assigned local Health Center in the community.

“We want, and the public needs, these individuals to return to a productive role in society. We’ve found that when we address health related concerns, like mental health, that the patient is better able to focus on self-improvement, like employment. The use of comprehensive discharge planning and case management contributes to the success of this program. To be effective and “Tough on Crime” we have to be “Smart on Crime,” said Cocchi.  

“My prior experience administering the Sheriff’s Department Re-entry Unit underscores to me the importance of this national model that helps protect my fellow Correctional Staff, improves inmate health, improves public safety, and serves to save the taxpayer’s money. Simply, it means less inmates returning to incarceration.  If I earn the right to serve as our next Sheriff, I will maintain this successful program,” said  Cocchi.