Patricia Threats, R.N., Principal Public Health Promotion Specialist
A supervisor/public health promotion specialist and one public health educator (PHE) make up Rhode Island Department of Corrections Infection Disease Prevention Education and Counseling Team. The primary goal of the team is to provide health education and disease prevention to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections community. These educational trainings are to ensure that individuals obtain the necessary knowledge needed to pursue good health. One team member is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the other is a Registered Nurse certified in AIDS Care.
The PHE’s offer health prevention and infectious disease education to all new commitments and to the sentenced population. The team delivers a wide range of teaching activities throughout the Department, addressing both the needs of the inmate population as well as staff. These informative trainings include general health topics, sexually transmitted diseases, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, and MRSA (staphylococcus aureus) which is resistant to first-line antibiotics. A strong emphasis is placed on HIV prevention and safe sex practices.
Other learning skills offered by the PHEs comprise of intensive risk reduction education, healthy life styles changes, and life skills. All HIV-positive inmates are seen twice a week by Infectious Disease Specialists from Miriam Hospital’s Immunology Clinic. Teaching is offered during clinical visits and one on one sessions to promote better quality of life and to prevent further transmission. The HIV nurse offers post- release planning to all HIV-positive clients and acts as a liaison between community-based agencies and offenders to maintain continuity of care. Post-release planning includes collaborating with community agencies that provide services for HIV positive individuals. Inmates are helped with housing applications, residential treatment programs, medical and mental health appointments. Offenders are given RIPTA tickets for transportation to guarantee a smoother transition as they re-enter their communities.
Psychosocial issues are addressed during individual and group counseling sessions as needed.