Managing COVID-19 Staff and Inmate Infections in Correctional Facilities

In COVID 19, Updates by Beth

It may be impossible to think that your facility will not be touched in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the good news is that for many facilities, there is still time to prepare.

There are many things to consider that can help your teams get ready. We cover a number of those in our previous post on Tips for Dealing with COVID-19 at a Correctional Facility, but we also wanted to cover in more detail how to manage staff and inmates becoming infected. The following tips can help you ensure your crisis plans are ready to handle a sick staff member or inmate.

Your First Inmate Tests Positive

We’d suggest you first start by reviewing our clinical guidelines for management of COVID-19. These can be accessed here and are downloadable. Once you are familiar with those guidelines, keep in mind that the following is likely to occur once an inmate tests positive:

  • You can anticipate a lot of increased stress and pressure from both inmates and staff. Try to keep everyone calm by having good communication methods in place. Provide staff with accurate and timely information on processes within the facility.
  • Prepare for the fact that employees with underlying conditions may become unavailable for a period of time if exposed to sick inmates. Prepare for the worst so that when the time comes, you will have appropriate staff to step in and cover for those who are sick.
  • You will need to determine your HR policies for managing exposure to a sick inmate. For example, CDC guidelines for the general public vs. loosened guidelines for healthcare should be considered and communicated.

Your First Employee Tests Positive

Similar to the guidelines above for inmates, the most important thing to do will be to provide support and ensure staff receive accurate information. Ensure corrections staff and healthcare staff are able to provide a unified approach to managing employees and information.

You should plan for alternative staffing plans. This should include a way to manage shortages and ways you effectively run day-to-day operations with significantly less staff. You may also want to consider decreasing the number of medication passes and build in guidelines from the CDC for health care and first responders.

Personal Protective Equipment

As we all know, PPE is in high demand across the country. Ideally you have already contacted your supplier and local emergency management agency to build up stock and project your needed supply PPE. If not, now is the time to be in touch. Prepare now for the fact that difficult decisions will need to be made in regards to PPE. These decisions should be made based upon your supply.

The best thing we can all do now is to be as prepared as possible. For more support that can help you prepare for the possibility of inmates and staff becoming infected at your site, please reference our guide on getting ready for COVID-19 in correctional facilities.