Released: February 24, 2023
Delaware County’s Prison Warden Laura Williams is proud to announce that the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, in collaboration with Wellpath, the leader in compassionate, quality healthcare in jails and prisons, have teamed up to provide a full Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program for incarcerated patients battling Opioid Use Disorder. The program includes three FDA-approved medications: Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, and Methadone. Since the program’s inception in July of 2022, the recent expansion to a full medication-assisted treatment program has quickly grown from treating about five patients daily to now over 60.
“Like the rest of our country, Delaware County continues to be plagued by the opioid epidemic and we see those who are suffering from addiction enter our facility every day,” said George W. Hill Correctional Facility Warden Laura Williams. “Our complete MAT program allows us to provide the most effective medications that minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings while at the same time raising dopamine levels. Our goal is to provide the specific medication a person needs for recovery, so we can release people safely into the community and do our part to avoid fatal overdoses.”
Delaware County has partnered with healthcare provider Wellpath to enhance its MAT program. Wellpath currently provides MAT services to people in 130 facilities across the United States. Wellpath has helped establish the full program at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility and has provided the resources to make the program a success.
The expansion of medications for Opioid Use Disorder was a mission of the Jail Oversight Board, created in September 2019 to provide oversight and recommendations regarding the management of the prison and the treatment of those imprisoned. In February 2020, the Jail Oversight Board adopted a resolution calling for the expansion of treatment for inmates with Opioid Use Disorder. The Board cited the ongoing crisis regarding the widespread addiction to heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl, and other opioids.
“Since its inception, The Jail Oversight Board has recognized the urgent need to address the opioid crisis at the County’s jail,” said Delaware County Councilman and Chair of the Jail Oversight Board Kevin Madden. “A significant portion of the prison population is dealing with opioid addiction and releasing them back into the community without addressing and treating the addiction is a disservice to the inmates and to the community to which they return. We need to address the root of why many are incarcerated and provide the tools they need to recover.”
In April 2022, following a multi-year process of study and planning, the County reassumed control of the Correctional Facility from a private management firm. As part of its resumption of operations, the County has integrated the prison with its other justice agencies and County departments, which will allow investments to be made in treatment programs, mental health resources, re-entry programs, staff, and technology.
Since the deprivatizaton of the prison, a key priority has been transforming how the prison handles detainees and prepares them to become productive members of the community when they are released. The implementation of the MAT program highlights that the County is committed to being progressive in providing equitable substance use treatment.
During the February 14 Jail Oversight Board Meeting, Warden Williams provided an update on the expansion of medications to treat patients at the prison with Opioid Use Disorders. As of February 14, 60 individuals were prescribed Suboxone, 3 were prescribed Sublocade, and 7 were prescribed Methadone.
“The success of Delaware County’s MAT program truly comes down to great leadership and shared vision within the combined team,” said Stephanie Ruckman, DNP, FNP-BC, MBA, CCHP, Wellpath Vice President of Operations for Justice-Involved Patients at Wellpath. “Not only is Warden Williams passionate about treating patients suffering from addiction, but her dedicated team also has a unified commitment to using these evidenced-based medications coupled with therapies to help ease patients’ struggles and set them on a path to long-term recovery.”
Wellpath assesses candidates for enrollment in the program during an intake at the prison. The goal is to determine the individual’s likelihood of success in a MAT program and get them on the path to recovery as early as possible. Those who have already begun a MAT program before entering may continue their program while at the facility. When patients are a part of a MAT program and not using illegal drugs, they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which considers opioid addiction a disease and not a criminal activity and recognizes that a person’s drug addiction or recovery extends into the neighboring community after incarceration.
“I have been on the front lines of addiction for many years and in my current role I want to do all I can to maximize the safety of our patients and community,” said Warden Williams. “By providing this comprehensive MAT program, not only are we giving patients effective care, but we are setting them up for positive reintegration into the community which we believe will help reduce recidivism in the long run.”
George W. Hill Correctional Facility is a county jail and prison located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in the townships of Thornbury and Concord. Its mission is to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment for our well-trained and experienced professionals, visitors, community members, and those incarcerated persons entrusted to our custody and care. We promote correctional practices and exceed standards to maximize the safety of the community, employees, and those entrusted in our care, and provide education and training opportunities for employees to strengthen their expertise in correctional practices and specialized areas to enhance the institution and provision of services.
Wellpath is a leader in MAT programs for addiction treatment and recovery in jails and prisons in the US. Wellpath’s MAT services aim to create a healthier individual, a safer community, and a lower risk of returning to jail. Wellpath is the premier provider of localized, high-quality, compassionate care to vulnerable patients in challenging clinical environments. Wellpath holds patients at the center of everything we do and promotes rigorous standards of care and innovation. With over 14,200 clinicians and professionals in 36 states across the US and Australia, Wellpath provides medical and mental healthcare services for over 300,000 patients daily in nearly 600 facilities, including prisons, jails, state hospitals, forensic treatment, civil commitment centers, and community care centers. Learn more at wellpathcare.com.