RICHMOND — In any environment, nursing is a challenging profession. Being a nurse in a correctional setting requires a host of skills beyond those required in a hospital or other nursing situation. For that reason and for the amazing work they do, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is celebrating its nurses during National Nurses’ Week, May 4 – 10.
A nurse inside a prison environment must have a keen understanding of her surroundings at all times and adjust immediately should a security event occur. This is on top of her ability to monitor patient assessment and treatment.
Many inmate patients never had consistent access to health care before arriving at a VADOC prison facility. Some have abused alcohol or other drugs prior to incarceration. These and other factors have created or worsened serious medical conditions. Nurses who treat inmates must be thoroughly prepared to deal with such medical needs.
“It takes a special person to manage the challenges associated with offender health matters,” said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. “Correctional nurses have accepted the challenge and are committed to providing appropriate care for everyone without regard for the mistakes they may have made in the past. This is why the Virginia Department of Corrections joins in the celebration of National Nurses’ Week. ”
Correctional nurses must be willing to take the time to educate inmates about their medical conditions and are continually surprised by how little inmates know about their own bodies or medical needs. Early detection of medical problems and preventive measures are designed to keep patients healthy. Keeping inmates healthy saves taxpayer dollars, and education continues the savings upon offenders’ release into the community.
Approximately 600 nurses work inside VADOC prison facilities managing the health care needs of more than 30,000 offenders on any given day.
More information on the VADOC can be found at www.vadoc.virginia.gov.