By Bill Sessa Information Officer I | OPEC

The first chief executive officer for CDCR’s new California Health Care Facility being built in Stockton has a construction project of his own to get started. He has to build a staff at the same time that dirt is flying and concrete is being poured for the facility that he will oversee.

Nathanial K. Elam, most recently the CEO of the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, recently got his first up-close look at the Stockton hospital site, touring the construction zone suitably decked out in a hard hat as earth-moving machines roamed the 400-acre site south of Stockton and workers pulled up pre-cast concrete walls for the facility’s first housing units.

The $900 million, 1.2 million-square-foot facility will provide 750 mental health beds and 750 long-term care services beds for inmates with chronic illnesses who need 24/7 medical care but not hospitalization.

“I’m looking forward to building the CHCF team and launching the new facility,” said Elam, who led more than 650 medical, mental health and dental professionals in Vacaville after extensive experience managing private health-care facilities and those in the Department of Veterans Affairs.  “CHCF will play an important role in addressing the needs of mentally ill and aging inmates in California’s correctional system by providing much needed health-care beds and reducing expensive outside hospital stays.”

With the underground infrastructure in place and walls up on about one-quarter of the living units, the Stockton facility is on schedule for completion by summer 2013.  Although hiring for most positions will begin closer to that date, Elam expects some critical members of his support staff to be in place by September of this year.

In addition to correctional officers, the Stockton health-care facility will be staffed by a wide range of medical personnel, including registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses, psychiatric technicians, phlebotomists, medical assistants, pharmacy assistants and a wide range of therapists.  The need for psychiatric technicians is so great that the state has provided Stockton’s Delta Community College with funds to expand its training program for that profession.
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