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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic

Prisons Unprepared for Flu Pandemic

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    Posted: September 15 2006 at 5:00am
Last Updated: Sep 15th, 2006 -

 

Latest Research : Infectious Diseases : Influenza

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Prisons Unprepared for Flu Pandemic
Sep 15, 2006, 17:30, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"Nearly 85 percent of those in jails and prisons will be released within a year. So even if we as a society don't think protecting them from disease is a priority, prisoners released into the general population pose a real threat to society."

 
By Saint Louis University, As the fear of an impending avian flu pandemic is compelling hospitals, businesses and cities to develop preparedness plans, one of the most potentially dangerous breeding grounds of disease is woefully ill-prepared for a crisis, according to a new study being presented today by researchers at Saint Louis University.

"There’s a real failure to recognize how important the health status of inmates is to the public health of all of us," says Rachel Schwartz, Ph.D., a researcher at the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University School of Public Health. "Nearly 85 percent of those in jails and prisons will be released within a year. So even if we as a society don't think protecting them from disease is a priority, prisoners released into the general population pose a real threat to society."

The research is being presented today at the Correctional Medicine Institute’s 2006 Conference in Baltimore.

There are more than two million prisoners in the United States, making up what Schwartz calls "a highly vulnerable population."

"There’s a much higher level of disease among prisoners – people with HIV, drug-resistant tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other diseases," she says.

She adds that 80 percent of inmates come to prison with some sort of illness.

"And once they’re incarcerated, they’re more likely to get other diseases. It makes correctional facilities into ticking time bombs. Many people crowded together, often suffering from diseases that weaken their immune systems, form a potential breeding ground and reservoir for diseases."

Schwartz and fellow researchers studied research and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other governments to identify what plans were in place for prisons should an infectious disease break out.

Many of the correctional facilities that Schwartz and colleagues studied have acknowledged they don’t have an adequate plan to deal with a pandemic or similar health crisis. Schwartz says there’s reluctance among government leaders to provide prisoners with medical care, such as flu vaccines.

"The thinking is that there won’t be enough for the general public, and that they should get the shots first," she says. "We tend to think of all inmates as being violent offenders, but the average length of incarceration is only 48 hours. Many are not convicted criminals, but rather people merely accused of crimes and awaiting trial.

"We know that illness among prisoners will eventually spread and cause illness in society, so we must address this now."

The solution, says Schwartz, is to spend more energy and money on preparedness. She and fellow researchers developed a plan to educate the judicial and prison systems on ways to prevent the spread of disease, from meticulous hand-washing to appropriate use of quarantine and isolation in prison and jail settings.

The pandemic plans are designed to provide useful information for many kinds of crisis situations, Schwartz says.

"Ideally, they will help authorities prepare and respond to anything from a bird flu breakout to a biological attack. The information is also critical for existing illnesses within prisons, like HIV, not just emerging infections."

 

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http://www.slu.edu/

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 3:08pm

The same situation will exist in nursing homes, mental health hospitals, boarding schools. We have talked a lot about whether or not Dr.s and nurses will go to work in a pandemic. I wonder if prision gaurds will risk their lives of themselves and family to keep watch over prisioners and keep them feed, in clean clothes and so forth. I truly cant imagine it. If they have even some who quit, then you add to the mix, the fact that the gaurds are now at jepordy from the prisioners from a physical danger standpoint.

In a worst case scenario, would it be better to let them sit in jail or let them loose? If you let them loose, think of the danger to society. I am not talking about the ones in for a couple days, I am talkin maxium security prisions. Should a Dr. and nurse be required to treat murders and rapists and child molesters when they are going to be so badly needed in the outside world. This could happen, with a horrific enough terrorist attack also, not just pan flu. What are your opinions?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jknoel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 3:40pm
This isn't any different than all other institutions in the country.  If anything, jails are better off because you can just lock everyone up and not let them out.  
The only way to grow is to take a chance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote emmajones Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 3:46pm
Should a Dr. and nurse be required to treat murders and rapists and child molesters when they are going to be so badly needed in the outside world. This could happen, with a horrific enough terrorist attack also, not just pan flu. What are your opinions?

My opinion? No, doctors and nurses shouldn't be required to treat prisoners if to do so means they desert the hospitals. The prisoners made their beds. It's the same feeling I have about the majority of non-preppers who were warned but jeered at us preppers. The vast majority will simply have to take the consequences for their actions. There will only be so many rations - of food, water, healthcare, etc. - to go around.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MelodyAtHome Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 3:58pm
I know I'm going to get yelled out but I think murders and rapists should not be allowed to live. I'm not talking about the 18 year old boy who has sex with his 17 girlfriend. I'm talking about those guys who kidnap, especially little children, rape them, torture them, etc...same with the murder. I'm not talking about the wife who has been beaten for 20 years, torture,etc..then in self defense shoots her hubby...You know who I'm talking about...they should be eliminated. Sorry if you don't agree...this is just my own personal opinion. I'm tired of paying taxes so these murders, rapists mostly are getting college degrees, 3 full meals, exercise, TV while hard working people out in the world can't get health insurance for their kids or themselvers, barely fee themselves and keep a roof over their head. It's just not right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote emmajones Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 4:29pm
Melody, I won't yell. I agree. My tagline is "be forgiving", but there are some humans who have committed such evil that their forgiveness can only be given by God alone. This life is better off without them and they can go to the next and take the consequences.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote emmajones Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 4:32pm
My ex-husband, with whom I had a child, spent years in and out of prisons, never for crimes against people, just property, and also for drugs. Anyway, I never got any child support. It galled me to think that while I worked 2 jobs to keep my son housed and fed, MY tax dollars went to support HIM in prison! The irony! There must be a better way.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 4:42pm
Just think of them and treat them as terrorists.Because thats exactly what they are.Just the home grown version.These kinds of acts are not accidents.They are planned  out acts of hate and heartlessness.Do not mourn for these people.Mourn for the victims that had no choice in the matter.Even peta knows you put down a rabid animal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2006 at 5:09pm
Originally posted by jknoel jknoel wrote:

This isn't any different than all other institutions in the country.  If anything, jails are better off because you can just lock everyone up and not let them out.  
 
At first I thought the same thing that if the prisons just shut the doors then the panflu wouldn't get in. The thing is though that there are many people working in the prison that are not prisoners. Like the guards. It would only take one infected guard to spread all around the prison. There are many people in prison that I think should never be let out, shouldn't even be allowed to live, child molesters, rapists, some murderers. But there are also some people in prison that are innocent, some that have commited minor crimes etc. It's these people I worry about. No one should have to die because they wrote bad checks.
I don't know what the solution is though. Maybe the prisons could make up a list of non violent offenders and let them go? I do hope that the violent offenders will not be released, regardless. If they die, they die. Tough, but it was tough what they did to others too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 18 2006 at 7:20pm
I would gladly take in a elderly person or a person who is mentally impaired during a pandemic, but you can leave the prisioners right where they are at. Except the non violent ones. They should be let go. Martha Stewart vs Charles Manson, Martha is my choice all the way, she could even help spruce up the place. LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote July Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2006 at 5:00am
Ticking Time Bomb': Prisons Unprepared For Flu Pandemic
 Libraries    25 Sep 2006   

As the fear of an impending avian flu pandemic is compelling hospitals, businesses and cities to develop preparedness plans, one of the most potentially dangerous breeding grounds of disease is woefully ill-prepared for a crisis, according to a new study being presented today by researchers at Saint Louis University.

“There's a real failure to recognize how important the health status of inmates is to the public health of all of us,” says Rachel Schwartz, Ph.D., a researcher at the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University School of Public Health. “Nearly 85 percent of those in jails and prisons will be released within a year. So even if we as a society don't think protecting them from disease is a priority, prisoners released into the general population pose a real threat to society.”

The research is being presented today at the Correctional Medicine Institute's 2006 Conference in Baltimore.

There are more than two million prisoners in the United States, making up what Schwartz calls “a highly vulnerable population.”

“There's a much higher level of disease among prisoners - people with HIV, drug-resistant tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other diseases,” she says.

She adds that 80 percent of inmates come to prison with some sort of illness. “And once they're incarcerated, they're more likely to get other diseases. It makes correctional facilities into ticking time bombs. Many people crowded together, often suffering from diseases that weaken their immune systems, form a potential breeding ground and reservoir for diseases.”

Schwartz and fellow researchers studied research and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other governments to identify what plans were in place for prisons should an infectious disease break out.

Many of the correctional facilities that Schwartz and colleagues studied have acknowledged they don't have an adequate plan to deal with a pandemic or similar health crisis. Schwartz says there's reluctance among government leaders to provide prisoners with medical care, such as flu vaccines.

“The thinking is that there won't be enough for the general public, and that they should get the shots first,” she says. “We tend to think of all inmates as being violent offenders, but the average length of incarceration is only 48 hours. Many are not convicted criminals, but rather people merely accused of crimes and awaiting trial.

“We know that illness among prisoners will eventually spread and cause illness in society, so we must address this now.”

The solution, says Schwartz, is to spend more energy and money on preparedness. She and fellow researchers developed a plan to educate the judicial and prison systems on ways to prevent the spread of disease, from meticulous hand-washing to appropriate use of quarantine and isolation in prison and jail settings.

The pandemic plans are designed to provide useful information for many kinds of crisis situations, Schwartz says.

“Ideally, they will help authorities prepare and respond to anything from a bird flu breakout to a biological attack. The information is also critical for existing illnesses within prisons, like HIV, not just emerging infections.”

Saint Louis University School of Public Health is one of only 37 fully accredited schools of public health in the United States and the nation's only School of Public Health sponsored by a Jesuit university. It offers masters degrees (MPH, MHA and MS) and doctoral programs (Ph.D.) in six public health disciplines and joint degrees with the Doisy College of Health Sciences, and schools of Business, Law, Medicine and Social Service. It is home to seven nationally recognized research centers and laboratories with funding sources that include the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American Cancer Society, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the World Health Organization.

The Saint Louis University Institute for Biosecurity was established in 2000 to provide public health and emergency response professionals with the education needed for preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation of emerging public health threats. Faculty and staff at the Institute conduct research that contributes to the development of national policies to address these threats.

Saint Louis University Medical Center

St. Louis, MO 63103
United States
http://www.slu.edu/pr

Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=52606

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2006 at 8:18am
I don't see why if the gov can quarantine a whole town at will  it can't quarantine a prison just the same.

If a person's jail time happens to be up and they are prohibited from leaving, tough &%$#.  It is the same as quarantining an ordinary building or town that is infected. An ordinary citizen could not leave. why would a prison be any different?

If there is no known source of infection within the walls of the place, why would a quarantine be imposed that would not be imposed on any hospital, boarding school, camp, college campus, etc.?  If there is no known infection in the place, that would be against people's civil rights.  The same standard should be applied as would be to any other institution.  The rates of communicable illness is really high in hospitals and day cares, but should we force all daycare workers into quarantine when there is no documented illness in their environs ?? Of course not. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dlugose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2006 at 11:20am
May I remind you nurses already work in prisons, with either onsite or telephone back up at times from doctors.  So prisons are not necessarily a drain on resources.  At first prisons would be safer than more public places, and prisons would alter their visitation policies, screen incoming prisoners and staff on a daily basis, as would all responsible employers.  Here is what Minnesota corrections people are planning, from http://www.corr.state.mn.us/publications/documents/Flupandemic4-06.pdf
 
Q & A on the DOC Pandemic Plan
How are you going to manage prison security with a
30% reduction in staff?
We have the ability to lock down many living units
to contain movement and, therefore, transmission of
influenza. All activities will be evaluated to determine
which are essential so we can focus our resources on
priority functions (i.e., security, sick call, and food
services). We will assess the need for staff cross-
training to ensure all essential functions are covered.
We will work with DOER to develop creative staffing
patterns to minimize face-to-face contact of staff and
provide sustained staffing coverage for prolonged
pandemic periods and subsequent waves. We are
identifying management staff “three-deep” to ensure
seamless operations from a management perspective.
What if it is greater than 30% reduction in staff?
The situation will be evaluated on a day-to-day
basis. Should we need assistance to maintain opera-
tions, we are identifying additional resources. We can
move staff from one facility to another, staff at our
central office can be deployed, and organizations such
as the National Guard can assist if necessary.
What steps are you currently taking to ensure that
the DOC is prepared for pandemic influenza?
We have established a Core Team to implement a
written plan. That plan is based a variety of elements
such as comprehensive continuity of operations plans
addressing physical disasters, employee shortages, and
riot management. We are stockpiling supplies necessary
to manage facility operation for an initial eight-week
period; i.e. food, medical supplies, medication, and
personal protective equipment. We are also in regular
contact with the MDH and Homeland Security.
How will you minimize potential for prison riots?
We have given great thought to ensuring the safety
of staff and offenders during a pandemic. One rule of
thumb in managing an offender population is to keep
them well-informed, busy, and to maintain as normal of
operations as possible. We have identified what is
important to offenders; i.e., visiting. We may need to
eliminate face-to-face visiting to minimize disease
transmission, but will modify protocol to meet the
offenders’ need to stay in touch with their families.
Increased phone use may be one mechanism to meet
this need. We can and will restrict movement if neces-
sary. We have the ability to lock down entire units
should we need to do so.
How do you know that you will have adequate
supplies, medication, and food?
We are currently working with our vendors in all
areas to stockpile identified supplies.
Will you close any prisons?
At this time, we don’t anticipate the need to close a
facility. Each facility will have a contingency plan to
continue operations.
What kind of staff training will be necessary to deal
with an influenza pandemic?
We are providing training on the disease to ensure
that staff are knowledgeable about transmission, infec-
tion control measures, and how to stay healthy.
How are you going to communicate with staff and
offenders on the plans the DOC is taking?
There are many avenues in place, including the
department’s staff intranet and offender publications.
These mechanisms are updated regularly. We also post
and distribute public health publications.
What steps are you going to take in the facilities to
minimize transmission of influenza?
We have identified numerous measures to minimize
exposure of the offender population and staff. For
example, we are devising a protocol to substitute daily
visits to the Health Services Clinic to reduce direct
contact. We are also looking at delivering meals to living
units. There are a number of other activities where
offenders and staff congregate that can be modified to
minimize transmission.
How are you going to ensure that sex offenders in
the community are supervised adequately?
Level II and III sex offenders, the most serious of
sex offenders, are currently under intensive supervised
release and monitored by specialized corrections agents
statewide. These agents work in teams and can be
mobilized to other areas of the state to provide supervi-
sion if the need arises.
Will you be using more electronic monitoring of
offenders in the community?
The use of additional electronic monitoring could be
part of the solution to enhancing supervision of serious
sex offenders on an “as needed” basis.
Dlugose RN AAS BA BS Cert. Biotechnology. Respiratory nurse
June 2013: public health nurse volunteer, Asia
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 25 2006 at 8:32pm

The question has been posed here, should medical personel go to work and endanger their own family. The answers have varied from person to person, medical people are going to get sick, they will be exposed. In my opinion, if medical personel may not show up to work at a hospital or nursing home, they will feel no obligation to go to work at a prision. Furthermore, it is not just the medical personel, but the gaurds, will they go to work and endanger their families and leave sick loved ones at home? We all know that it is not uncommon for prisioners to deliberately throw or decorate their cells with their own waste. They do so even if they have aids. Lets face it, a person who comits the acts these people have and is in for life, without parole has nothing to lose.

Prisions have a large traffic volume, it is a small city, people deliver goods from the outside all the time, gaurds, social workers, pastors, medical people, repair workers. Anything on the outside is present in the prision on a smaller scale.
 
If we talk quarentine, we are talking locking innocent people in the form of prision employees up with prisioners. That is certainly not right. No other employer could get by with saying in the event of a pandemic, you cant leave. Dont under estimate the seriousness of this problem. Remember in NOLA cops walked off the job. They knew it was a matter of time before help was coming. Just another problem the government while telling us to prep, should be dealing with now. After all they are the ones saying not if but when.
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