We’re seeing a disturbing trend in Michigan prison healthcare, and I find it upsetting. It can be described in one word: delay.
John has a cyst in his throat, near the vocal cords, and health care says he needs surgery. Yet it doesn’t happen.
New tests show that Scott’s cancer has metastasized and is spreading along his spine and his neck. He needs to see his oncologist now. Yet it doesn’t happen.
David is in terrible pain. They say he needs thoracic surgery. Yet it doesn’t happen.
We are blessed to have a team of wonderful physicians on our panel of consultants, and they are constantly frustrated and alarmed by these delays. It’s as if the prison healthcare people are thinking along the same lines as Mark Twain: “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
One has to wonder whether it is a simple issue of procrastination, by unconcerned and uncaring people who are just collecting their paychecks. Or is it something deeper than that? Sometimes we see clear evidence that some individuals in the corrections system believe that prisoners deserve nothing, and that, in fact, there is nothing wrong with additional punishment beyond that of incarceration. What other explanations can there be for postponing or even denying needed treatment, surgery or x-ray? For refusing to honor or allow post-op procedures? For denying pain meds when there is proven legitimacy?
Believing that all behind bars are created in the image of God, our HFP mission statement deals with that very topic, saying that we do what we do “in order to alleviate suffering beyond the just administration of their sentences.”
As proof that the Michigan Department of Corrections has a problem in this area, I must point out that we remain busy responding to complaints like those listed above. Approximately 15% of all calls to our office have something to do with medical and/or healthcare issues. We’ve logged about 60 this month!
I wonder if the professionals who work for Corizon, the healthcare provider for Michigan prisons, have read their own company’s statement: As the correctional healthcare pioneer and leader for 40 years, Corizon Health provides client partners with high quality healthcare and reentry services that will improve the health and safety of our patients, reduce recidivism and better the communities where we live and work.