Cook County Health’s (CCH) Cermak Health Services has earned accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) for demonstrating full compliance with NCCHC’s nationally recognized standards of care for correctional health services in jails.

Cermak Health Services was recognized for its ongoing commitment to providing quality health services for the patients at Cook County Jail. NCCHC accreditation is a voluntary process. CCH’s correctional health program was last accredited by NCCHC in 2009.

“I am proud of the Cermak staff for once again achieving accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. This recognition not only highlights Cook County Health’s commitment to high-quality care standards but also underscores our dedication to enhancing the lives of those within our correctional system,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Providing exceptional health care services in correctional health facilities is a critical component of public health in Cook County. This accreditation reaffirms our mission to offer equitable, comprehensive care to all, regardless of their circumstances.”

“Accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care is reflective of what Cook County Health stands for – which is that every individual has the right to receive quality, compassionate health care,” said Dr. Erik Mikaitis, Interim CEO of Cook County Health. “I am grateful to the NCCHC for this recognition. It is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our entire correctional health team who provide exemplary care to patients in a complex environment each and every day.”

The largest single-site correctional health service in the country,  Cermak Health Services has led the way in developing innovative care models to improve correctional health care, offering patients comprehensive primary care, specialty care, dental care, mental health services, rehabilitative care, a pharmacy, and an infirmary.

“Individuals in custody, many of whom have struggled to obtain medical or mental health care in their communities, require extraordinary care and attention to protect their health and welfare,” Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said. “The work of Cermak Health Services staff is often underappreciated, but this accreditation highlights their commitment to providing quality care for those ordered to the custody of Cook County Jail. We are proud to have them as our medical care provider.”

“NCCHC accreditation demonstrates that we are meeting or exceeding the national standards of care for patients in Cook County’s correctional health facilities,” said Manny Estrada, Chief Operating Officer for Cermak Health Services, Cook County Health. “Our staff have worked incredibly hard to achieve this distinction and we will continue to ensure patients receive comprehensive health care services.”

To earn NCCHC accreditation, Cermak Health Services underwent a rigorous professional assessment during the summer of 2023. During the assessment, a team of experienced physicians and experts in correctional health care surveyed the facility for compliance with jail-specific standards in several areas such as patient care and treatment, health promotion, safety and disease prevention, governance and administration, personnel and training, special needs and services, and medical-legal issues.

Cermak Health Services operates the only Certified Opioid Treatment Program in a correctional facility in the State of Illinois, which was re-certified in 2023. Cermak Health Services was also nominated as a Substance Use/Misuse Center of Excellence Program by NCCHC.

“The patients we serve come from the neighborhoods in which we all live, work and learn, and their health needs are reflective of the needs we see across our communities,” said Dr. Priscilla Ware, Chair of Correctional Health and Medical Director of Cermak Health Services, Cook County Health. “We are committed to providing patients with the care they need to support their own health, well-being and ability to thrive outside of a correctional facility.”

Cermak Health Services’ program at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center has maintained its NCCHC accreditation since first achieving it in 2012. 

For 45 years, NCCHC’s highly respected standards have provided guidance to help correctional health professionals and administrators improve the health of their incarcerated populations and the communities to which they return, increase the efficiency of health services delivery, strengthen organizational effectiveness, and reduce the risk of adverse legal judgments. The consensus-based standards are developed in consultation with national experts in correctional health care, mental health, law, and corrections.

“In continuing to achieve NCCHC accreditation, Cermak Health Services has demonstrated its commitment to quality, standards-based correctional health care,” said Deborah Ross, CCHP, NCCHC chief executive officer. “Accreditation is a voluntary process, and we commend Cermak Health Services for successfully maintaining this distinction. The health of incarcerated people is a vitally important component of public health.”