Health Services

The State of Georgia is responsible for providing offenders with a constitutional standard of care when they are admitted to the Department's institutions. This includes comprehensive medical, mental health and dental services and all associated ancillary services.


The Department's Office of Health Service (OHS) oversees the delivery of health care services and handles statewide functions such as technical assistance, training, policy development, grievance appeals, clinical-legal issues, contract management and monitoring, budget development and tracking, informatics/analytics and partnership development.

OHS is led by the Assistant Commissioner of Health Services, who reports to the Commissioner and is supported by a Director. A Statewide Medical Director, Statewide Mental Health Director, and Statewide Dental Director serve as the final professional authority for the Department, for their respective health services discipline.

Network of Care

The Department contracts with Wellpath to provide comprehensive medical services statewide and with Centurion to provide comprehensive mental and dental services statewide. Services are provided under a managed care model.

The State of Georgia’s correctional health care system is multidisciplinary and provides offenders with access to such services as medical and dental sick call, emergency care, chronic care, medication management, diagnostic tests and procedures, infirmaries, inpatient hospitalizations and specialty services.

All inmates are screened at a reception center after intake from the county jail, to determine their current medical, dental and mental health care needs. This includes assessments for auditory, mobility and vision disabilities, and the need for specialized mental health treatment.

Within each correctional institution, the contractor provides primary care using a core staff of clinicians (physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, etc.) nurses, mental health and dental professionals and administrators.

  • Medical Health
    • Medical Reprieve submission to Board of Pardons & Paroles
    • Conduct clinical audits of all major facilities
    • Develop and maintain Health Policy and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
    • Risk management
    • Audit and monitor, policy procedures and healthcare delivery

    Healthcare services include only those services that are medically necessary, according to GDC standardized guidelines and:

    • Require immediate/urgent care;
    • Cannot be reasonably delayed without the risk of further complication, serious deterioration, significant pain or discomfort;
    • Are provided to treat a chronic or non-life threatening condition/s;
    • Improve functioning to a level that facilitates performance of the activities of daily living within the correctional environment.

    The agency's goal is to provide each inmate and incarcerated probationer with the ability to:

    • Be treated with dignity and respect;
    • Have discussions about their healthcare;
    • Receive medical care regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, education , ethnicity, age, or disability (physical or mental);
    • Privacy and confidentiality regarding treatment and other related healthcare information as governed/protected under federal and state law;
    • Receive healthcare in an efficient and appropriate setting;
    • Explanation and discussion regarding their medical condition and treatment options, including benefits and risks;
    • Participate in decision-making regarding their healthcare options;
    • If competent, refuse treatment and to be informed about the medical consequences of their refusal, including complications of disease and/or death. Court ordered services do not require consent from the offender;
    • File a grievance or appeal regarding services/care received or not authorized; formulate ‘Advance Directives’ to express healthcare wishes in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition, during which the offender is not able to communicate such wishes to healthcare providers.

    Each inmate and incarcerated probationer has the responsibility to:

    • Be respectful, and considerate to all healthcare providers;
    • Accurately disclose all needed information pertaining to their health condition to the healthcare providers;
    • Participate in developing and adhering to their healthcare/ treatment plan, including taking medications as prescribed and, lifestyle modifications; ask questions about their medical condition and treatment options.

    Inmates' Constitutional Rights

    The Right of Access to Care

    • Inmates must be able to make their medical problems known
    • Access to care must be provided for any condition, be it medical, dental or psychological, if the denial of care might result in pain suffering, deterioration or degeneration

    The Right to Care That Is Ordered

    • Care prescribed by a medical professional must be provided
    • Medically prescribed restrictions on work, activity or environmental conditions must be honored

    The Right to a Professional Medical Judgment

    • Medical staff must be competent to examine inmates to diagnose their illness.
    • Medical staff must be able to treat an inmate's problem or to refer the inmate to outside medical sources who can
    • Treatment must be provided using equipment designed for medical use
    • Treatment must be provided in locations conducive to medical functions
    • Treatment must be provided for reasons that are purely medical
    • The appropriate number of staff to perform required medical services must be present.
  • Mental Health
    • Evaluate, treat, and stabilize mentally ill offenders 
    • Partner with mental health diversion and reentry programs
    • Integrate mental health and substance abuse treatment
    • Integrate behavioral medicine with primary care delivery
    • Audit and monitor policies, procedures and mental health care delivery

    Mental Health Delivery System

    This system is part of a holistic approach to the assessment, treatment and management of mental illness and behavioral problems. Mental Health services are provided in State Prisons and Probation Detention Centers (PDC).

    State Prisons & PDCS

    • Staffing includes mental health administrators, support staff, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, nurses, and activity therapists;
    • Staff provides continuous services to mentally ill offenders;
    • Services include psychopharmacological treatment, individual and group treatment, activity therapy, and integrated dual diagnosis treatment for inmates with co-occurring substance abuse problems;
    • Staff also provides consultations to security on disruptive and violent inmates, and consultations to medical on medical-psychological issues.

    Two major mental health cost avoidance and cost containment initiatives include utilization management and telemental health.

  • Dental Health
    • Provide for access to dental care by licensed dentists and hygienists as summarized in the department's SOPs
    • Provide referrals for Oral Surgery specialty services, when indicated
    • Maintain accurate statistical data on dental health services provided and pending appointment
    • Collaborate with physical and mental health leadership and providers to ensure continuity of care
    • Update and maintain dental related policies and SOPs, ensuring all practitioners are adequately informed
    • Audit and monitor, policy procedures and dental health delivery

    Dental Health Delivery System

    Oral care is provided to each inmate in accordance with established guidelines under the direction and supervision of a dentist licensed in the state of Georgia. Every inmate has access to the full range of dental services offered at the resident facility or referral facility. Services offered are in accordance with the assigned classification level of each facility into one of five different levels.

    Level I: Facilities without in-house dental care and provide access to routine dental service on a fee-for-service basis, through a private dental practice.

    • Transitional Centers

    Level II: Facilities without in-house dental care and provide dental screening by trained health care staff and access to emergency dental care by a dentist either located at a neighboring GDC facility or from the local community who works under a mutually agreed to contract with the GDC.

    • Probation Detention Centers
    • RSAT Facilities
    • Probation Boot Camp

    Level III: State and Private Prisons that provide access to routine dental care, in addition to screening and emergency care, within the facility or by transporting them to a neighboring GDC facility.

    • All State and Private Prisons other than listed in Levels IV or V

    Level IV: State Prisons that provide routine dental care in the facility to the resident population and provide diagnostic and emergency services to incoming inmates.

    • Intake facilities

    Level V: Augusta State Medical Prison is the only level V facility. The mission of this facility is to provide specialized dental/oral maxillofacial surgery services for the GDC and to provide routine care to the resident population.

    • Routine Dental Services rendered:
    • Comprehensive Diagnostic Services
    • Treatment Plan
    • Operative Procedures: fillings or procedures requiring castings or involving laboratory fees are not available
    • Periodontal Services: routine prophylaxis, scaling and root planning, closed flap curettage
    • Extractions
    • Removable Prosthodontics: complete dentures and acrylic partial dentures
    • Patients who are completely edentulous in one or both arches and do not have serviceable dental appliances will have the opportunity to acquire complete dentures within the capability of dental services (as the schedule allows after patients with pain and infection are addressed)
    • Repair of existing damaged prostheses for functional purposes.

    Referral to Level V facility for specialized Oral Maxillofacial Surgery services as deemed necessary.

    Routine Dental Services NOT offered by the GDC:

    • Endodontic therapy (root canals)
    • Orthodontics iis not available, but if an inmate enters the Department with orthodontic appliances in place, a GDC dentist will make a reasonable effort to contact the treating Orthodontist to consult on the decision of either retaining or removing the braces
    • Implants
    • Fixed Prosthodontics (crowns and bridges)

    Any unusual exceptions to the above guidelines must be authorized by the Statewide Dental Director.


Download this pdf file. Health Services Division Fact Sheet