When nurse administrator Diane Pyne began at Corrections Health, she made a bold move. She encouraged her staff to refer to patients as that, “patients,” rather than inmates. In such a challenging setting, this was a big change and there was pushback, but Diane believed using the word “patient” held profound meaning. “Using ‘patient’ serves as a reminder to staff to maintain a focus on our patients within a challenging population and environment,” says Diane. “This small but significant change is assisting to create a positive approach in patient care culture here at the Edmonton Remand Centre.”
Diane’s efforts have been instrumental in developing a new model in health services at the Edmonton Remand and Red Deer Remand Centres. She found the stigma her patients faced limited their access to crucial services like physiotherapy, external specialist appointments and medications during “lockdowns”. For female patients, services like pap testing, support with domestic violence and family planning were not addressed. Seeing her patients’ needs, Diane fostered the creation of the women’s health clinic at Edmonton Remand Centre, alongside her colleague Dr. R. Ahmed.
“There was reluctance to offer health services to incarcerated women,” says Diane. “The belief was that it was not urgent and patients could seek it out once released. The fact is, after being released, these woman are confronted by other priorities, such as reunifying their families. With this new clinic, our female patients now have access to these essential services and it has greatly improved their quality of life.”
Even after discharge, Diane wanted to ensure there was a plan to facilitate safe transition of her patients back to the community. Discharge planning in correctional health is still relatively new and Diane’s team now works collaboratively with an inner-city clinic to ensure continuous care.
“It’s an honour to receive this award,” says Pyne, “and it’s because I have an incredible team here at Corrections Health. I’m so pleased our efforts have not only improved our processes, but they are helping to change how we care and treat patients who are incarcerated.”