HELENA — The state Corrections Department, in a minor reorganization, has created a new, temporary position to oversee health care services throughout the state prison system and department.
The changes, made final in late summer, also created a division that will focus on information technology.
The new position, with the title of health services administrator, has been filled by Cathy Redfern of Deer Lodge, a former deputy warden at the State Prison and who had been head of the agency's Health Services Bureau.
Mike Ferriter, the Corrections Department director, said health care expenditures are a big part of the agency's budget, and that it will be helpful to have someone with health care management experience to oversee the agency's entire spectrum of health care services.
As Health Services Bureau chief, Redfern had been responsible for overseeing health care costs at the State Prison and other secure facilities.
“Now, (Redfern's) role is to provide oversight to the larger department,” Ferriter said.
Redfern became the agency's health services administrator this summer, as a one-year, temporary appointment.
Outside medical costs, which are incurred when Corrections must take an inmate to health facilities outside the prison, have increased from $4.6 million in 2008 to $5.7 million in fiscal 2010, the agency said.
The prison system also spent about $12 million last year on medical and treatment costs inside the system.
As part of the reorganization, the agency also abolished the Health, Planning and Information Technology Division and replaced it with the Information Services Division — which had been the Information Services Bureau.
“We decided we wanted to elevate information technology to a more prominent position, because it's such a large part of what we do,” said agency spokesman Bob Anez.
Gary Hamel had been head of the old HPIT Division and took over at the new division this summer, but has since left the agency. His successor at the Information Services Division is John Daugherty, who had been chief of the Information Services Bureau.
The HPIT Division was created four years ago. Agency officials said at the time that it was created to provide greater oversight and management over spiraling health care costs.