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U.S. News

New York: Study Criticizes Health Care in State's Prisons

March 20, 2009

New York State prisons should improve inmate health care, especially for those with AIDS and chronic diseases, according to a study issued by the Correctional Association of New York. Improvements might include the addition of health care staff, the provision of more routine care, and state Health Department monitoring, CANY said. The watchdog group acknowledged that significant improvements have taken place since its first report nine years ago.

The CANY report was based on visits to 19 prisons over three years and reviews of corrections documents. CANY found a shortage of physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals. While some prison facilities have one doctor for every 400 inmates, others have only one for every 600-800 inmates, said Jack Beck, author of the report. Routine care required wait times of a few weeks to a few months, and the report found medication shortages for chronic conditions.

New York has about 3,700 inmates with HIV, more than any other prison system in the United States, representing 20 percent of the nation's HIV-infected prisoners, Beck said. New York also has about 8,400 inmates with hepatitis C virus.

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"More than 95 percent of these patients will return to their communities, and the effectiveness of [Department of Correctional Services' (DOC)] efforts to provide meaningful patient education and adequate care will determine not only the inmates' medical future, but the health of their communities," Beck said.

The state spends $5,883 for each of its 61,586 inmates, up from $4,825 for each of the 64,500 inmates four years ago, said Erik Kriss, a DOC spokesperson. AIDS care is monitored by an outside agency, he said. Over the last five years DOC has transferred 5,000 inmates to ensure proper medical care was available. The state prisoner mortality rate is actually lower than for the general population, he added. As for state Health Department monitoring, DOC believes it has enough oversight already, Kriss said.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
Journal News (White Plains)
03.13.2009; Jay Gallagher


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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