Dr. Warren Ferguson in MedPage Today: CDC’s first national survey on state prison health care has some impressive findings

July 29, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first-ever national survey of state prison health care has impressive findings in the areas of telemedicine, nursing and hospice care, a UMass Medical School correctional health expert told MedPage Today.

“[I was] impressed by the high levels of both nursing home and hospice care,” Warren Ferguson, MD, said in the July 28 article that focused on the results of the survey taken by 45 states. He explained that this trend mirrors “the aging of the prison population.”

Dr. 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.

While many of the survey findings are positive – particularly the use of telemedicine in 30 of 45 states – Ferguson said it’s difficult to draw concrete conclusions because the report lacks specificity. He has questions about the responses related to inpatient care because it’s unclear if the term was defined in the survey. One state may report that the prison infirmary is providing inpatient care, while another may believe that is limited to licensed hospitals.  

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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