Skip Navigation
Search Menu

Class Notes

Healing Behind Bars

Johnson directs efforts to meet the critical health needs of prisoners across the U.S.

Any physician faced with providing quality health care to some 378,000 patients in 530 institutions spread across 28 states has significant challenges to address.

When those institutions are prisons, and all the physician-patient encounters are performed under the watchful control of correctional officials and guards, the task becomes even more daunting.

Yet when asked how he plans to enhance the health care of this vast population—with many hitherto untreated chronic conditions, mental health, and social problems—Calvin Johnson ’93 responds with deadpan assurance: “It’s a piece of cake, actually,” then chuckles engagingly.

In January, Johnson was named chief medical officer of Corizon, the leading provider of correctional health care services in the nation. Previously, Johnson served as executive vice president and chief medical officer for MinSec Companies, a provider of health services to community corrections facilities. He also was an assistant professor of pediatrics at Temple and a practicing pediatrician at its Children’s Medical Center.

Tackling major health care issues is something Johnson is used to doing. In 2003, then Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell appointed him the 24th secretary of health for the state, making him, at 37, the youngest person ever to hold that position. Almost immediately, he was called upon to lead Pennsylvania’s successful management of the largest single-source hepatitis A outbreak in American history. When Johnson left the post five years later, Rendell praised his “passionate voice for protecting and improving the health of all Pennsylvanians.”

Johnson now leads a staff of nearly 1,000 Corizon physicians nationwide, along with several hundred physician assistants and nurse practitioners. He says, “We’ve got broad public policy issues, we’ve certainly got challenging clinical issues, and it certainly is a place where you can provide service and make a difference with people in their lives.”

Healing Behind Bars

When asked how he plans to enhance the health care of  this vast population,  —Calvin Johnson ’93 responds with deadpan assurance: “It’s a piece  of cake, actually.”