Webinar presenter Jim Martin answered a number of your questions after his presentation, NCCHC and COVID-19: Lessons Learned from Our Facilities. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: It is required for our facility for correctional staff and medical staff to be fully vaccinated. Some folks are having some issues with this. Any thoughts on how to deal with this?
Jim Martin: Oh yeah, rub the genie lamp and blink three times and make a wish. You know, I don’t have a good answer for you. And as we go into these questions, If I don’t know, I’ll tell you. You know, education, I think I addressed a little bit of that. I think that, if a facility has some clinical expertise that can address some of the science behind it, I think that’s the biggest point. I know Dr/ Mark Stern is a friend of most of us in this profession, and he talked about just explaining the science behind it and why it’s important. And but then there are other personal concerns and religious concerns and I don’t want to stomp on someone’s religious beliefs. I have religious beliefs too, which is important to me. But I hope that guidance from those who know the science is helpful. I think communication, maybe a listening session with the administration and those who have questions, is important. I think the biggest barrier is when you say it’s this or nothing, and then there’s no opportunity for questions to be asked. I think that that’s the biggest thing I can think of, is to share information, look towards the experts, have a listening session, and then also being open to the other person’s opinion. I think those are the important keys to help allow someone to make the right decision that’s right for them. I hope that helps. I wish I had a better answer. It says, you know, well, you turn to page 14 of this book, and it’ll tell you exactly. It’s just not that simple, but I think open communication and listening to the experts, both from a scientific community and a faith-based community. You know, look at all options.
Audience Question: Have any inmates received a COVID vaccine? What are you seeing nationwide as to how that’s happening?
Jim Martin: There are. Well, the last time I checked, and I apologize, I should probably update my information about a week or two ago. I know that at least 10 states were offering vaccinations to the incarcerated population. So, I know that some are. Now is that in short-term jail facilities, or long-term prison facilities, I don’t know. I mean, you know, the length of stay out of jail and length of stay in prison is certainly different in most cases. I know of at least one county jail that’s offering it to the incarcerated population. I know that at least 10 states are, as of a couple of weeks ago. So, the answer is yes, I think they are. Who they are, I don’t have that information?
Audience Question: Does the NCCHC have a sense as to how many jails are still underprepared or need extra help or assistance, and if, so, what percentage of the population are we talking about?
Jim Martin: Percentages is going to be a hard number to give you. I know that there are over 10,000 jails across the country, and I know the footprint of facilities that we’re in contact with is a very small percentage compared to that. I hesitate to say, I think more are still dealing with issues that aren’t. But, again, remember too, it depends on what your community makeup too. Smaller facilities in smaller communities might not be having an issue. I’ve talked to plenty of sheriff’s office said we’ve not had one infection. We’ve not had one case. We’ve not had one test. Our population is good. Our officers are good. But I just can’t imagine that’s the norm on it.
Audience Question: So then, to that point, we know that jails are the microcosms of our communities. But is the prevalence or presence of COVID in our jails. Does that necessarily follow or correlate to the presence of COVID in our community? So, if we happen to be in a community where COVID really hasn’t been an issue. Can we necessarily assume that it’s not a problem in our jail?
Jim Martin: I think early on, in that it might not have been that case. I think now we’re starting to see that because of the herd immunity because of, you know, those communities who are really proactive in their precautions. I think early on when we just didn’t know, there just wasn’t enough information. We truly were trying to say a week ahead and the next week, it was outdated information. So, I think early on, again, the example I gave, where staff, probably we brought it into some facilities, once it’s in there and to a close facility, it’s in there and it can really be transmitted quickly, given the circumstances and the precautions you’re using. So, I think now, we’re seeing it is starting to see a change for the better. I hope so, continue to knock on wood for that, but it’s a great question. I wish I had a better answer.
Audience Question: How do we register for the virtual conference again? Can you talk us through that a little bit?
Jim Martin: I am so glad you asked, and I know it’s going to be on the things that Chris and Erin do for us. Just go to it, the very short answer www.NCCHC.org, that’ll get you on our website. The first thing you’ll see on the landing page is the virtual conference announcements. Click on that. On the resource page of this presentation, it has a direct link to the registration. It’s spring-conference.NCCHC.org/#
Click Here to Watch a Recording of NCCHC and COVID-19: Lessons Learned from Our Facilities.