The Bureau of Medical Services is committed to improving the health of our patients by providing excellent medical care. The Bureau of Medical Services is responsible for the oversight and coordination of the delivery of health care services to all inmates incarcerated in Ohio's prisons.
Our mission is to promote optimal wellness through identification and treatment of health problems, while providing patient education associated with health conditions and disease prevention. We will foster an atmosphere that promotes comprehensive, compassionate, quality, professional healthcare through education, provision of resources, clinical oversight, and administrative support.
Meeting the health care needs of the inmate population remains a constant challenge. The population is aging, and prior to incarceration, most did not receive regular medical and dental care and/or had life-styles that were not compatible with good health. The Bureau of Medical Services must therefore treat a multitude of chronic and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Continuing advances in accepted medical treatment further increase the challenges of meeting these needs. In order to continue to provide quality care during a time of escalating medical costs, the bureau has implemented a system of managed care including primary care physicians, a standardized drug formulary, pre-authorization of non-mandatory medical treatments, utilization review of hospital expenditures, capitated physician contract rates, negotiated discounts on hospital services and medical co-pay fees.
Health care within Ohio prisons is provided on several levels. The first and most basic level of care is provided through the infirmaries at each institution. These are staffed by a combination of civil service and contract health care professionals. The health care team at each institution manages the day to day operation of health care services by providing primary care and addressing the routine health care needs of the inmates.
Two skilled nursing facilities, Frazier Health Center located in Orient, Ohio and the Franklin Medical Center located in Franklin County, provide more intensive health care treatment. Some inmates with serious illnesses or disabilities may be permanently assigned to one of these facilities during their incarceration. These medical facilities offer a cost-effective approach for long-term health needs of inmates.
A third level of health care is available through our partnership with The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC), where emergency room and inpatient hospital services are provided, and surgeries and advanced diagnostic testing take place. Physicians from OSUMC also operate specialty clinics at the Franklin Medical Center. Inmates from all institutions are scheduled for these clinics as needed at this central location.
In accordance with DRC’s managed care system, acute level hospital stays are minimized by use of the Franklin Medical Center and Frazier Health Center as step down facilities. The Franklin Medical Center is also an invaluable resource in providing specialty care through the OSUMC/DRC partnership, long-terms care beds, and a special care unit for the terminally ill. The OSUMC/DRC partnership also supports a dialysis unit at Frazier Health Center that provides treatment for 40 to 50 inmate dialysis patients, making it one of the largest such units in the state.
In March 1995, the Department successfully implemented telemedicine, an interactive video technology that provides specialty medical consults to Ohio prison inmates. The technology, the use of which improves communication and continuity of care while decreasing transportation costs, links 32 DRC institutions across the state and the Bureau of Medical Services with the Franklin Medical Center and The Ohio State University Medical Center. Approximately 5,000 such patient consultations are now completed each year, with 19,000 having been completed since implementation of the program.
To help curb rising costs and the ever-increasing demand for medical care, DRC, like many other correctional agencies, has implemented a $3 "co-pay," drawn from inmates' personal accounts. This fee is assessed for each self-initiated request for medical treatment. No inmate, however, is denied needed medical care because of an inability to pay this fee. Mental health services and follow-up in chronic care clinics are exempt from this policy.