$1.1 million van will save nurses travel and time
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 00:09
It took $1.1 million, collaboration between three state organizations and inspired ingenuity to put a one-of-a-kind correctional nursing training van on the roads of Connecticut.
Until now, nurses working in Connecticut’s 16 correctional facilities were forced to carve out valuable hours to travel to educational workshops. Now, the 40-foot, state-of-the-art vehicle provides on-site training using breathing, blinking dummies, replicas of prison cells and a group of professional educators.
Denise Panosky, a clinical assistant professor in UConn’s school of nursing, is one of the health professionals doing on-site training. To her, the van is more than an advance in education; it is a chance to improve the overall health of Connecticut communities.
“A lot of these patients haven’t been to doctors in years, and half of them have mental health issues,” Panosky said. “Most of them aren’t necessarily bad people, and very few of them are serving life sentences. When they come back into our communities, we want them to be healthy. The van gives our nurses the tools to give better patient care.”
The van will hit eight locations throughout the state, serve all 16 correctional facilities and give at least one hour-long training session to all of the 439 correctional nurses. The vehicle is the first of its kind, and its developers are hoping other states will follow suit.
“We wanted to create a national model,” said Dr. Connie Weiskopf, the director of nursing and patient care services at UConn’s Correctional Managed Health Center. “These patients have very complex needs, [and] the van provides a specific training area that allows us to do comprehensive training in one place.”
University officials say the van’s modern technologies and efficiency in delivering educational services will help to ensure Connecticut is compliant with the U.S. Supreme Court mandate to provide prisoners with health care commensurate to community standards.
The School of Nursing, the University of Connecticut Health Center Correctional Managed Health Care and the Connecticut Department of Corrections worked in conjunction on the project, which is now more than two years in the making. The funding came from a $1.1 million grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration.
The van’s ribbon cutting ceremony last week attracted significant press attention, with reports appearing from news outlets all over the country, including the San Francisco Chronicle.