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Hospice in Prison

NCJ Number
Corrections Technology & Management Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2001 Pages: 22-25
Helen Kitchen Branson
Date Published
4 pages
This article describes a structured end-of-life program (hospice) inside Texas prisons, with charts showing where hospice services are located in facilities across the United States.
At the Texas facilities located between Tyler and Nacogdoches, hospice inmates are housed in infirmary units that have been modified to meet the needs of patients accepted into the palliative care section. Both minimum and maximum security inmates who have certified terminal illnesses and have requested to be included in the hospice care programs are accepted. The inmates accepted must sign a "do not resuscitate" form. The multidisciplinary team includes a physician, registered nurse, mental health clinician, dentist or dental hygienist, chaplain, and facility warden. The two State university medical schools are contracted to provide health care services to the inmates. Rather than attempting to maintain hospice units at each prison in the State, corrections officials decided it would be more practical to establish three facilities to accommodate the terminally ill. The Michael Unit is the largest of these (22 beds). All the rooms are single occupancy. Inmates are provided with a radio and a television. Seven days a week, twice daily, relatives may visit at any time. One of the goals of the palliative care team is to reunite terminally ill offenders with family connections. When death is imminent, family members may stay in the room 24 hours a day. Charts show the existence and types of hospice care provided for inmates in various States.