Prison Industry health care

SCENE TWO – Correctional Service of Canada National Headquarters, Ottawa
……continued from March 3.

“The legislative mandate for CSC to provide health services to federal offenders comes from the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). The CCRA indicates that CSC is responsible for providing ‘every inmate with essential health care and reasonable access to non-essential mental health care that will contribute to the inmate’s rehabilitation and successful reintegration in the community’.

CSC Health Services strives to improve offender health to contribute to the safety of Canadians. We provide offenders with efficient, effective health services that encourage individual responsibility, promote healthy reintegration, and contribute to safe communities.

The delivery of care is provided by health care professionals who are registered or licensed in Canada including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, dentists, and other relevant specialists.”

…..from ‘Health Services’ on the Correctional Service of Canada web site.

Public reaction to prison health care policy draws criticism from people in the community who feel they can’t get what care they need for themselves.

Chalk that up to a misreading of the health care protocol. “Essential” and “reasonable” are subjective. What’s more, people are unaware that policy and practice in our prison industry are often out of sync.

Experience, observation and research say, yes, there are dedicated CSC health care employees and contracted professionals who make policy their practice. Too often, that’s not the reality.

The final entry, scene three, will examine the thorny subject of dental care as a major issue.

So, how does an inmate access health care? Barring a violent/traumatic incident, a request form makes its way to medical staff. The wait for a response can be days, weeks, or………? Waiting is the only option.

Citing but two examples that make the wait for help in a prison stressful, note the inmate in a provincial institution from an earlier posting who was told by a nurse that health care was a privilege and not a right. This was an Ontario government employee, but the sentiment is common throughout our penal systems. Then there’s a federal inmate who used a long-awaited trip to his institution’s health care unit to ask a nurse how they handled requests marked “urgent.” They don’t pay attention to “urgent”, he was told.

Dear public. Envy prison health care? Be careful what you wish for.

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