Annual Correctional Health Care Awards Honor Industry’s Best

By CN Staff

CHICAGO—NCCHC’s annual awards pay tribute to leaders and innovators who have enriched the correctional healthcare field. This year’s awards were presented Oct. 24 during the opening ceremony of the National Conference on Correctional Health Care in Las Vegas.

The Bernard P. Harrison Award of Merit was presented to B. Sue Medley-Lane, RN, CCHP-A, corporate infection prevention and control director for Centurion Health, for demonstrated excellence and service to advance the correctional health care field. In a career spanning almost 50 years, Ms. Medley-Lane has directed infection control programs and developed policies, procedures, and processes for multiple correctional facilities, earning a national reputation. She is a voice for correctional health care on the local, state, and national level; she serves on multiple task forces, consults with the CDC and other agencies, and is a prolific speaker. During the COVID pandemic, she became the trusted source of accurate, up-to-date information for Centurion employees and patients alike. She is dedicated to teaching and mentoring the next generation and promotes correctional health care as a career to nursing students.

The B. Jaye Anno Award of Excellence pays tribute to innovative, well-executed communications that have had a positive impact on the field of correctional health care, or to individuals for bodies of work. This year the award was given to Jaime Shimkus, CCHP, for excellence in communications. Ms. Shimkus was employed by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care for 20 years until her recent retirement. She joined the organization as publications editor in 2001 and became vice president of communications in 2016. During her tenure she served as editor of CorrectCare magazine and managing editor of the Journal of Correctional Health Care, as well as managing the organization’s public relations and marketing functions.

Clinical and forensic psychologist Melissa Caldwell, PhD, MA, CCHP-MH, CCHP-A, is the recipient of the second annual Edward A. Harrison Award of Excellence in Correctional Health Care Leadership. This award is presented to someone who leads by example, inspires others, and is committed to quality improvement in correctional health care. Dr. Caldwell is president of Freedom Behavioral Health, part of the Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc., business family, a woman-owned company that provides medical and mental health services to correctional facilities in 19 states. In this role, she develops behavioral health programs, supervises a staff of more than 160 mental health and substance abuse professionals, and provides development, training, and mental health consulting to custody and health staff.

The Young Professional Award recognizes new and upcoming leaders in the field of correctional health care. This year’s winner is clinical psychologist Ashley Bujalski, PsyD, MA, CCHP, mental health director at the Mercer County Correction Center in New Jersey. Dr. Bujalski is committed to empowering incarcerated individuals through mental health counseling utilizing evidence-based techniques to alleviate psychological distress, while promoting healing and change through a compassionate and person-centered approach. She also serves as an advocate for incarcerated people struggling with severe mental illness and works with community staff to help ensure the appropriate levels of treatment are provided.

Paulette Finander, MD, MBA, CCHP-P, was named NCCHC Surveyor of the Year for outstanding service and dedication to NCCHC’s accreditation program. Dr. Finander, formerly a chief medical executive with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, has been an NCCHC physician surveyor for more than 10 years. She began participating in surveys during her vacation time while employed at the CDCR and has accelerated her involvement since retiring in 2019. During the height of the pandemic, she cheerfully jumped into the world of virtual surveys while also being willing to accept on-site assignments when necessary. In 2021 alone, she participated in more than 40 virtual, on-site, and hybrid surveys.

The Wisconsin Resource Center has been named the R. Scott Chavez Facility of the Year. The award is presented to one facility selected from among all NCCHC-accredited facilities for outstanding quality, innovation, and dedication. Located in Oshkosh, the Wisconsin Resource Center is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. It has been accredited by NCCHC since 2006. A survey conducted every three years to maintain accreditation was completed earlier this year. The surveyors nominated the Wisconsin Resource Center for recognition after finding a strong focus on resident care that met NCCHC’s rigorous accreditation standards.

The Program of the Year Award recognizes programs of excellence among the thousands provided by accredited jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities. This year, the Colorado Division of Youth Services was selected for its Behavioral Health Services and Programming. The CDHS Division of Youth Services provides for the care and supervision of youth committed by the District Court to the custody of CDHS. DYS operates secure youth centers that serve youth between the ages of 10-21 who are pre-adjudicated or committed. The award includes all ten Colorado sites encompassing 15 secure state-operated youth centers. All Colorado DYS youth centers are accredited by NCCHC, which puts Colorado at the forefront of integrated and comprehensive health care services for the youth in care.

The mission of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is to improve the quality of health care in jails, prisons, and juvenile confinement facilities.