And MUSC Health CEO Dr. Patrick J. Cawley called the partnership “a win-win-win (that) provides community benefits in several domains.” Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said the partnership would “allow inmates to be treated in a consolidated, safe, secure environment and save taxpayer dollars.” “SCDC patients will benefit from better continuity of care,” he said. “The community will be safer due to the decreased need for patient transport around the state, and the state is able to realize efficiencies and innovations that will lead to significant cost savings in the future.”
MUSC said the Corrections Department’s savings from the partnership would come from “a combination of security efficiencies and reduced overtime for corrections officers as well as exploration of other ways to leverage MUSC Health’s broad network of expertise, health care providers and collective buying power.” Today, when a prisoner has to go to a hospital, he or she must be accompanied by two correctional officers. The new secure hospital wing will allow the Department of Corrections to reduce the number of correctional officers needed for this task, saving as many as 200 slots that can be restored to prison duty, according to an MUSC news release. That would amount to a significant increase in prison staffing.
Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings. Emergencies will continue to be treated in hospitals around the state.
The pandemic appears to be easing in many places, but the new agreement promises to greatly improve the standard of medical care for prisoners in addition to saving money beyond the global public health crisis. It should be widely welcomed. COVID-19 put a particularly heavy burden on the Department of Corrections in the past year, as it did for most community living arrangements, including nursing homes. Not counting infections among correctional staff, which were also high, 3,252 inmates — 1 in 5 prisoners in the system — had caught the virus as of April 26, and the death rate from COVID-19 among prisoners was 60% higher than the national average.
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