Dr. Warren Ferguson in AAMC Reporter: Academic medical centers must address inmates' health needs

August 03, 2015

Academic medical centers are obligated to train medical professionals about the health needs of inmates and ways to provide them with quality care, a UMass Medical School correctional health expert told the AAMC Reporter, a publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

“There is a very significant linkage between social determinants for individuals who are leaving prison and jail and their downstream health,” Warren J. Ferguson, MD, said in the July/August issue of AAMC Reporter. “We have a responsibility to train our health professionals on the issues that these populations face and strategies to try to help provide effective care.”

Many medical students are committed to correctional health, Dr. Ferguson told the AAMC Reporter. Two fourth-year medical students at UMass Medical School created an elective course on correctional health for medical and nursing students.

Ferguson is professor and vice chair of Family Medicine & Community Health at UMass Medical School and director of academic programs for its Health and Criminal Justice Program.

The Health and Criminal Justice Program within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division focuses on research and scholarship; education; and service and consulting. It also runs the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health, which hosts an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed conference annually on criminal justice health and health policy.

The program’s consulting work involves managing contracts to provide health services for federal correctional institutions. Clients include the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Medical Centers in Devens, Massachusetts, and Butner, North Carolina, as well as its Federal Correctional Institutions in Ray Brook, New York, and Berlin, New Hampshire.

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