Screening & Health Care
- Staff screening procedures: All staff are screened for COVID-like illness before entering the jail facilities. This screening is not meant to serve as a diagnosis and does not confirm the presence of any disease. The screening process was developed in accordance with the latest federal, state and city health guidance, and is as follows:
- Before entering any facility, staff are required to answer a series of yes/no questions regarding symptoms and/or possible exposure related to COVID-19.
- The staff member then complies with temperature screening, taken via an infrared no-touch thermometer.
- If staff members answer "yes" to any of the screening questions, or if they have a fever over 100.4 degrees, they are immediately sent home.
- If they are DOC staff, they are directed to notify the Department's Health Management Division and advised to follow the recommended DOHMH protocols for seeking medical attention.
- If they are not DOC staff, they are directed to notify an administrator of their relevant agency, and advised to follow the recommended DOHMH protocols for seeking medical attention.
- Staff access to COVID-19 testing: All DOC and CHS personnel, both uniformed and non-uniformed, have regular access to free testing. In addition to testing available to all DOC and CHS staff through Northwell Health Urgent Care sites, the Department is now offering free testing on Rikers Island multiple times per week. The Department strongly encourages all staff to get tested frequently to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Staff can register for on-island testing through an online portal or phone hotline to schedule an appointment in advance. Walk-ins are also accepted.
- Medical screening for people in custody: Correctional Health Service (CHS) monitors people in custody for signs of the virus, including COVID-specific patient screening at every contact point within the criminal justice process: at pre-arraignment, admission, clinical encounters, and discharge. These screenings help to inform DOC and CHS's joint housing plan. As part of its containment and mitigation strategy, and in collaboration with CHS, the Department developed a New Admissions Cohort Housing Plan that includes strategies to test and separately house all those newly admitted to custody.
- The Department reopened EMTC on November 20 to centralize new admission housing and ensure separation between those newly admitted to custody and the general population. All newly admitted individuals are offered COVID-19 tests upon admission. Individuals who test negative continue to be housed in EMTC for the quarantine period prior to any further movement and must have a second negative COVID-19 test and be observed to be asymptomatic prior to being transferred out of new admission housing.
- Newly admitted individuals who are symptomatic and newly admitted individuals who test positive are housed at West Facility Communicable Disease Unit (CDU). Prior to being rehoused, individuals housed at West Facility must take a COVID-19 test, and the test results must be negative. The CDU may be used for those individuals who require a higher level of care, monitoring, and/or treatment due to COVID-19 or another health- related issue.
- In addition to new admission testing, CHS offers testing to people in custody at other points during their incarceration, including following a contact investigation, for surveillance testing purposes, or for symptomatic patients.
- Symptom Monitoring: DOC staff have been instructed to refer any person in custody who is exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms to CHS for evaluation.
- In addition to its ongoing training for uniformed personnel on infectious and communicable disease precautions, DOC staff has also received additional training and guidance on how to spot COVID-19 symptoms and make referrals to CHS as appropriate.
- Health care for people in custody: Patients received care and treatment from Correctional Health Services (CHS). As appropriate, patients may also receive care at acute care facilities within the NYC Health + Hospitals system, which is among the best equipped in the nation to provide the appropriate, safe care to those patients.
- If clinically indicated, patients are placed in special housing units for a variety of reasons including the possibility of COVID-19 infection.
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