Dr. Lannette C. Linthicum '75, Texas Correctional Health Services Director, Receives the John Phillips Award at Phillips Exeter Academy
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Exeter, NH (November 2, 2012)-Phillips Exeter Academy has given the John Phillips Award to Dr. Lannette C. Linthicum (class of 1975), physician and director of health services for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), the largest state correctional facility in the U.S.
Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Linthicum attended city public schools before coming to Exeter on a scholarship in 1972.
Looking for greater educational opportunities, she
excelled in the arts and humanities, particularly in French literature.
senior year, Dr. Linthicum
studied in Rennes, France.
She discovered her interest in biochemistry and teaching while attending Smith College.
soon knew she
wanted to be a physician.
After medical school at the University of Maryland
, Dr. Linthicum
enrolled in the National Health Service Corps, to cover her
In 1986, she
was assigned to a four-year post with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
first four years went quickly, as she
distinguished herself as a skilled leader and determined caregiver.
Before her term had ended, she was promoted to supervisor of the medical staff in 13 prisons across the heart of Texas.
When Dr. Linthicum's
four-year assignment had ended, health services was still trying to regain its oversight from the court, and she
wanted to see this work to its fruition.
In 1992, six years after Dr. Linthicum had begun working with TDCJ, the court released oversight of its medical program.
Two years later, the state legislature released supervision of the facility's mental health program.
In 1998, after numerous promotions and assignments, Dr. Linthicum was named director of the TDCJ Health Services Division.
decided to remain in Texas, she
realized this was her
calling: "I believe this was my destiny.
I know I was ordained to do this work.
My steps are ordered by the Lord.
Truly, this work is about ministering to people who are bound in prison.
I feel like I am doing God's work."
Under Dr. Linthicum's
supervision, the Health Services Division has become a model for correctional medicine in the U.S. Serving as a formidable advocate for improved correctional health care at the national level, she
staff facilitate medical, dental, pharmaceutical, counseling, geriatric and obstetric health services to 160,000 inmates in 112 prisons throughout the state-a population the size of a small city.
The division also provides numerous other services, including a health care ombudsman and peer education programs.
Within the Texas correctional system, with more than 30 percent chronically ill inmates, over 30,000 mentally and terminally ill, and with an aging population of close to 10 percent, Dr. Linthicum
staff of 100 face complex and continuous challenges.
With those in mind, Dr. Linthicum
concern for the future of correctional health care is on par with society's health care concerns.
"The three largest issues in correctional health care are: first and foremost, growing budget challenges-having to do more with less funds; second, is the graying of the prison population and all of the issues associated with taking care of the elderly; and finally, serving the needs of the mentally ill.
It is going to be very difficult, particularly with the increasing consideration of privatizing medical services," she
In spite of this forecast, Dr. Linthicum
repeats the biblical words that have kept her
focused and inspired: "In Hebrews 13:3, it says to 'Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.' God is working through me."