Lorry discusses current correctional health care news with correctional nurse experts Gayle Burrow, Johnnie Lambert, and Denise Rahaman. News stories this month hit all the major issues in correctional health care practice – an aging population, high rates of mental illness, and addiction.
CBS news posted a story about a Kentucky Jail’s program developed by a former opioid addict and inmate. The program includes standard addiction treatment such as psychotherapy and 12-step support groups along with a new one: Vivitrol injection just before release and then monthly. Like the new medications for Hep C, Vivitrol is expensive. Some reports are $1000 per monthly injection. Panelists discuss the impact of Vivitrol treatment.
The prison population is aging and that means increased health care bills. This story is from Omaha, Nebraska, where they have been reporting regularly on issues in the Nebraska prison system. While earlier reports focused on inmate and staff assaults, they have now turned their attention to the high need of healthcare in the system due to an aging inmate population. In Nebraska inmates over 50 are now 18% of the population, up from 5% 30 years ago. That spells lots of chronic health issues and surgical procedures like knee and hip replacements that totaled $800,000 for 27 inmates in the last year.
Researchers from Oregon State University recently published a study covering 44 states over a nine-year period. They looked at government spending on community mental health, inpatient mental health and jail population. While they did not see a significant relationship between community mental health and jail spending, they found that for every 10% increase in spending for inpatient mental health the jail population was reduced by 1.5 percent. Their conclusion is that for each dollar spent on inpatient mental health care, 25 cents is saved from jail costs. It certainly seems to show a need for more inpatient mental health beds.
A local PBS station is reporting on the airing of the first episode of “Corrections” a radio drama produced by inmates at the Donaldson Correctional Facility, a part of the Alabama Prison System. A professor from the University of Alabama gained permission from prison authorities to work with interested inmates on the project. The stories, developed and recorded by the inmates, are intertwined with health issues, such as contracting Hepatitis C from a prison tattoo. The panelists discuss the benefits of these type of programs.
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