St. Louis County, MO (October 21, 2019) - St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Monday that Valerie Nelson has joined his administration as Chief Operating Officer for corrections medicine.
Nelson, who started her new role this month, formerly served as Director of Operations and Continuous Improvement at Centene Corporation for five years.
“We’ve seen the ravaging impact opioid addiction has had on our communities and those in the jail population are no exception to this epidemic,” said County Executive Page, a medical doctor who successfully led the effort to create a prescription drug monitoring program in St. Louis County, which through cooperative agreements with other jurisdictions now covers 85% of the Missouri population. “With Valerie as part of our team, we can work more effectively to oversee healthcare for drug addiction and other health issues.”
Though Nelson is an employee of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH), she will work closely with Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, Acting Director of St. Louis County Department of Justice Services.
Dr. Emily Doucette, Acting Co-Director of St. Louis County DPH, which oversees inmate care at the Justice Center, said care for the incarcerated is becoming more complex and thus staffing must change as well.
“The system is changing,” Dr. Doucette said. “Emergency transfers to the hospital have doubled this year compared to the past three years.”
In 2018, 37% of inmates at the Justice Center had a substance use disorder when entering the jail.
In addition to a large number of substance use cases, 28% of Justice Center inmates have a mental illness that requires medication while incarcerated.
“There is a huge overlap in these populations,” Dr. Doucette said.
As Chief Operating Officer, Nelson’s role includes budget management as well as employee recruitment and retention.
“Dr. Page has taken a much more collaborative approach at all levels of St. Louis County government,” Dr. Doucette said.
Nelson holds a master’s degree in Health Administration from Webster University, a Master of Science in International Economics and Politics from Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.