The following is an open letter to state officials by the health care providers at the Alice Hyde Medical Center. The contents are not the official position of the University of Vermont Health Network, of which Alice Hyde is a part.

Cynthia Brann

Commissioner, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Harriman State Campus

1220 Washington Avenue

Albany, NY 12226

John Morley, MD

Commissioner of Health, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Harriman State Campus

1220 Washington Avenue

Albany, NY 12226

Ms. Brann and Dr. Morley:

The Coronavirus crisis has become a major concern for every community in our country. The health care communities in New York are preparing for, and in many parts of our state, actively dealing with what is truly a disaster by any measure. In Malone our health care facility, which has undergone many changes in the past few years, is actively preparing to look after our community and co-operatively with our neighbors.

An area of great concern however, is the prison population that lives in Malone. The Department of Corrections has been slow to follow the rules of social distancing. Examples include; busloads of visitors from the metropolitan area (until 2 weeks ago) coming to Malone, limited or no screening of workers for signs of the virus, inadequate cleaning in the prison, allowing inmates to congregate (facilitated by the “Dormitory” environment) and most of all, until a couple of days ago, transferring inmates from one prison to the next, many of whom are sick. Additionally, many of these inmates have complex co-morbidities such as HIV, cancer and other serious illnesses and many are elderly. All of these issues substantially increase the risk of spreading the virus.

In a meeting with the Department of Corrections yesterday (3/26/20) we were told that this population is to be treated like any other part of our community. We were given no assurance that those wards of the State would be adequately cared for by the State. The expectation is that our small health facility will be ground zero for up to 5,000 inmates who in our opinion, have been irresponsibly managed by the Department of Corrections. The likelihood of a major outbreak of the Coronavirus in these prisons is very high. This spells potential disaster for our hospital, its staff and our community.

As the health care providers for this community, we implore the State of New York and the Department of Corrections to immediately develop a plan to provide care for its inmates. We neither have the facilities, the staff, nor the transport capability to deal with a major outbreak of the virus in the prisons which appears inevitable. Our first responsibility is to the members of our community outside of the prison and we take that responsibility very seriously. Our community deserves better!

Respectfully,

The Providers (Physicians, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants) of

The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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