This month’s news round-up has a bit of a twist. My panelists Gene Lincoln, Regional Infection Control Nurse for the New Mexico Prison System through Corizon and Sue Smith, Correctional Nurse Consultant from Columbus, Ohio, provided some fabulous insights into recent healthcare news. Unfortunately, I had a computer meltdown and corrupted the audio file. So, let’s make lemonade from this lemon and create an unpodcast for this month’s stories in the news.
Story #1: Incarcerated Gardens: Effectively Utilizing Texas’ Prison Population
Our first story comes from the Texas State Prison System. In Smith County, Texas, inmates exhibiting best behavior have the opportunity to work in the prison vegetable gardens. In this facility over 150,000 pounds of vegetables are grown and donated to a local food bank each year. This is not a new concept, we have working prisons in the New Jersey system, as well. There are many health benefits to providing meaningful work for those who are incarcerated. Gene mentioned that some prison systems have eliminated inmate work programs due to an outcry that it constituted ‘slave labor’ but we all agreed that work is good for the physical, mental, and social well-being of our patient population.
Our next story comes from Australia where a new report finds that 32% of their inmates have a chronic disease – primary ones being hepatitis and asthma. It is interesting to note the healthcare trends in another country’s inmate population. Our panel found these rates to be comparable to our own system but there is great variability for reported Hepatitis C. We agreed that treatment of HCV will be a major issue and financial burden in correctional healthcare.
Story number 3 is from the Pennsylvania Prison System. Four cases of legionella were identified in one of their prisons and they are testing the water system. According to the CDC, Legionella transmission is airborne via respiratory droplets containing the bacteria. They further say it is a common cause of severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization- although it is under-reported due to infrequent testing for the bacteria in these cases. Sources of concentrated legionella include drinking water systems, whirlpool spas, and cooling towers which provide the 3 components of outbreak: heat, stagnation, and aerosolization. There is not much reported about legionella in jails and prisons. It would be an interesting consideration when severe pneumonia is found in a setting.
Story #4: Behind bars: Nurses at Utah County Jail face unique challenges
Our final story is a news item about correctional nurses working in the Utah County Jail. I am always excited to come across stories about our invisible specialty. The story is a fair balance of issues correctional nurses face and reviews some of the major nursing processes in a jail. We all agreed that this story would be helpful to give to nurses considering entering our specialty.
That is a brief rundown of our discussion of the news. What are your thoughts on the August 2013 news items?