Catherine Whaley Wins Prisons Support Services Award

RALEIGH

RALEIGH — An administrative officer at Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw has won Prisons Support Service Award for her extraordinary work to streamline COVID-19 testing of the staff at the prison.

Catherine Whaley’s deep knowledge of the facility and agency’s COVID-testing protocols contributed to her being an excellent example of a top-notch administrative officer.

“She represents the best of our best from across the state,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “Our award winners are hard-working, innovative and deeply committed to their jobs, their colleagues and to the care of the men and women in our custody.”

Announced at the first in-person (but socially distant and masked) gathering of the state’s wardens in a year on May 6, Whaley’s award coincided with national Correctional Officers and Correctional Employees Week.

During the continuing challenges and struggles associated with COVID-19, Whaley completely streamlined the staff testing procedures at the prison.

Every other week, she showed up for her job four hours early, daily, to complete staff testing for incoming and outgoing shifts. This was a critical health and safety initiative to help prevent the introduction of the virus to the prison by identifying staff who be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

She also conducted the contact tracing for staff when someone tested positive for COVID-19 in the prison and, as a result, she built a strong rapport with the local health department.

With the added responsibilities from the pandemic, she continued to maintain all of her job duties with a positive and professional attitude, showing her dedication and commitment to her job and her prison.

“When there is an issue, you call Cat. She will put you on the path and it will be right,” said Pete Buchholtz, South Central Regional Director of Prisons. “Knowing her personally, it really warms my heart to see her receive this award.”

She was hired as an administrative officer in 2004.

The prison system houses more than 28,000 offenders in 55 facilities with a staff of around 13,500.

Click for information on other Prisons 2021 award winners and for images of award winners.

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