CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Corrections and University of Illinois at Chicago are partnering on a new Telemedicine Pilot Program designed to bring elaborate and sophisticated healthcare to inmates with HIV and Hepatitis C. This interagency pilot program successfully rolled out at three sites: Danville, Lincoln and Robinson Correctional Centers.
Three more prisons in the system will be piloting this program and the hope is to add three prisons each month until all of the facilities are using this technology to treat inmates with HIV and Hepatitis C. According to IDOC Medical Director Dr. Louis Shicker, “The program allows for specialty care of complex medical issues at remote locations. Each facility will have equipment installed and UIC will have a designated area where the physician can do their assessments.” Each location has a screen along with medical instruments that are connected to the telemedicine unit at UIC. This allows the physician to listen to the heart and lungs and visually see any skin abnormalities from the UIC location. A medical staff member from the prison is with the inmate at all times and can be directed in the exam by the specialist at UIC. Pharmaceuticals and lab work are provided by UIC. ”I hope this program will provide standardized, quality care to our population, foster closer ties between UIC and IDOC and possibly even expand into other areas where telemedicine can be utilized for our population”, said Dr. Shicker.
University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Immunology, & International Medicine, Assistant Professor Dr. Jeremy D. Young says “The launch of this program was hugely successful. The equipment worked well, the clinic flow was smooth, and the patients were very receptive. With this program, we hope to provide evidence-based, up-to-date subspecialty care for offenders with HIV and hepatitis C infections. We at UIC are very excited about the program as it will not only provide medical care, but intensive case management services for offenders as they transition from the prison setting out into the community. Our plan is to make this an academic program as it will help provide education and training to IDOC staff and UIC students, residents, and post-graduate infectious diseases fellows.
This type of innovative program could save IDOC transportation costs and remove the risks associated with moving inmates outside of the prison. IDOC pilot sites next month include: Logan, Moline, and Western Correctional Centers.