Simple updates could make a big difference, says Schwind. More pillows to prop up bed-bound patients would combat pressure sores. A hydraulic lift could reduce injury for caregivers and their paralyzed patients. Moderate facility changes would, too, like handicap accessible bathrooms in all prisons, improved medical intake, and geriatric training for correctional staff.
However, the big ticket priority is a place for assisted care, says Rodgers. Some suggest creating a separate state-run nursing home, but Rodgers says that one within prison walls is better for patients—it eliminates weighing medical management against security risk.
“A few years ago, a patient got compassionate release, then put his girlfriend in the hospital,” says Rodgers. “We didn’t think he’d do that, but he did. Now prisoners have to be on death’s door for compassionate release.”
A 100-bed assisted living facility at Vaughn was studied and proposed two years ago, but it won’t move forward until economic conditions improve.