Hospice and Palliative Care Program
Chronological Review

  • The MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution had an unusually full process of development, that began with a community champion and "clicked" when a Department of Correction (DOC) administrator happened to meet and talk with the coordinator of a pioneering program. The story is a mixture of typical and atypical elements in the annals of correctional hospice initiatives.
  • Nealy Zimmermann, chair of the National Prison Hospice Association (NPHA) Connecticut Chapter, met with Florence Wald, dean emeritus of nursing at Yale University and the founder of the first hospice program in this country. Their aim was to establish a hospice program in the Connecticut DOC. They began talking with corrections officials about prison hospice; they started working to raise public awareness and gathering data to make their case. An elaborate feasibility study (Zimmermann, Wald, Thompson 1998) was undertaken and the results presented at a public conference (funded by the Open Society institute and the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities).
  • Shortly thereafter, at a conference in California (Fall, 1998), the Correctional Health Services Program Director in the Connecticut DOC, Patricia Ottolini, RN, met Tanya Tillman, RN, hospice coordinator at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. They discussed Tillman's unusual new undertaking and the success of the fledgling inmate volunteer program, "the most important component of Correctional hospice" in Tillman's view. She had connections with NPHA formed a team, and visited the Angola Hospice Program in October 1999. Ottolini was determined and began to champion the development of a prison hospice program that included inmate volunteers.  The proposal was presented to a deputy commissioner of the DOC, who was very receptive and gave the go-ahead.
  • On February 2, 2001 - a graduation was conducted for 18 inmate male hospice volunteers.
  • With the January 24, 2003 commencement ceremony for 13 inmate female volunteers, the York Correctional Institution became the second facility within the Connecticut Department of Correction to establish an Inmate Hospice Program. Both the MacDougall-Walker and York Correctional Institutions incorporate medical treatment, pastoral care, social work services and bereavement care in their Hospice programs. Additionally the York Correctional Institution incorporates comfort pet visits through the already established Prison Pup Partnership and NEADS program.
  • On February 14, 2006 The Connecticut Department of Correction Hospice and Palliative Care Program received public support and recognition by the Yale School of Nursing.  The Hospice program accepted the award for "Excellence in Caring for Chronic Care".  The Hospice program also received a proclamation from Governor M. Jodi Rell declaring February 14, 2006 as "Connecticut Prison Hospice Day".
  • On January 30, 2007, the first class of Hospice male volunteers at the Osborn Correctional Institution graduated 15 inmate volunteers during a ceremony which was attended by the Co-Chair of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee Peggy Sayers.  The graduation marked the addition of the third correctional facility in Connecticut to offer Hospice care.                                                   
  • In August of 2014 CTDOC held its 12 graduation of Hospice Volunteers bringing the number trained to  205 inmate volunteers.