Prison hospice and pastoral care services in California

John F. Linder, Keith Knauf, Sheila R. Enders, Frederick J Meyers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hospice at the California Medical Facility (CMF) Vacaville dates back to the mid-1980s, when the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic began to be felt throughout California's Department of Corrections. Vacaville has served for decades as the principal location for delivering health services to California's incarcerated men. Informal hospice-like services were inspired by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and through inmate and community calls for more humane care for dying inmates. By 1990, efforts to formally establish a hospice were under way. In 1996, a 17-bed, state-licensed hospice began caring for dying inmates. An interdisciplinary team plans and delivers the care, meeting weekly to admit and review patients. The Pastoral Care Services (PCS) inmate volunteer program, with more than 50 trained participants, provides care and comfort to dying patients in hospice and to ill patients on the general medicine service. PCS volunteers perform many duties, including sitting vigil with actively dying inmates. Inmates enrolling in hospice have to forgo further curative therapy, consent to the program in writing, and have a 6-month or less survival prognosis; patients are not required to have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, but are encouraged to consider one. Training for physicians, staff and PCS volunteers is provided by the University of California, Davis faculty of the West Coast Center for Palliative Education. Bereavement services are provided for PCS volunteers, other inmate "family" and staff. Family and friends of the deceased in the free community are followed by phone, mail, and primarily through referral to resources in their local area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-908
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Volume5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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