Hospice and Palliative Care Program
In The News

Female Inmates Qualify As Hospice Workers
Hartford Courant (February 9, 2003)

NIANTIC - Terminally ill inmates at York Correctional Institution will no longer have to face dying alone. The prison is launching a hospice program in its medical unit.

Prison officials last week dedicated the start of the program by honoring the first 13 inmates volunteers who graduated from the hospice training program.

"This is not something I did to get recognition or brownie points," said volunteer Shareka Broadnax, who is serving first-degree assault. "I didn't do this to get a get-out-of-jail-free card. I did this to give back and do something to touch someone else's life."

Department of Correction Commissioner John J. Armstrong said he is convinced a hospice program is not only something his department could do, but something it should do...

Florence Wald, a former Yale University dean of nursing who established prison hospice in Connecticut, said she is proud of the women and expects their program to be a success...

Keynote speaker Joanne Nesti, news anchor for WVIT-TV, Channel 30, told the women that she, too, is proud of their accomplishment. "Unlike the regular cap-and-down crowd, you must have a great deal of appreciation for what this day means," said Nesti, who encouraged the women to "stay hungry for knowledge."...

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Compassion Behind Bars
Hartford Courant (March 30, 2002)

One year ago, Connecticut joined a growing list of states that have introduced prison hospice programs. At the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, 14 inmates trained as hospice volunteers help care for terminally ill prisoners.

By all accounts, the program has been a success. Prison officials report that it has enhanced a feeling of community inside the prison walls.

Many of the volunteers say that sitting with dying fellow inmates has been a life-changing experience.

During the first year, seven prisoners received hospice care. Three have died. The volunteers sing, pray and talk with the patients, and sometimes just hold their hands. They say no one should have to die alone in prison.

Families of the volunteers attest to positive changes in the men, and likely will have a better chance of becoming good citizens after they leave prison.

Correction Commissioner John Armstrong plans to expand the program to at least two other prisons. Inmates should be encouraged to volunteer for hospice training. Humanizing prisons this way yields positive returns at virtually no cost to taxpayers.

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Hospice program gives inmates appreciation for life
Journal Inquirer (February 9, 2002)

SUFFIELD - Salvatore Annunziata is behind bars because he took someone else's life.

But he now spends his days making sure that others end their life with dignity.

As one of the 14 volunteer inmates in a special program at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution who provide hospice care to fellow prisoners who are in their final months of life, he says it helps him feel better about himself and his own future.

"It gives me a better appreciation of life in general," Annunziata, 39, who is serving time as the result of a murder conviction, said Friday. "To make me see them at their weakest moment makes you realize how precious life is." ...

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Fostering Compassion Inside Prison Walls
Hartford Courant (February 24, 2001)

... Now a growing number of prisons are permitting inmates to be trained as hospice volunteers to care for fellow dying prisoners - a development with the potential to dramatically alter lives for the better, both inside and outside prison walls.

Recently, 18 men graduated from the first such program in Connecticut, at the maximum-security MacDougall Correctional Institution in Suffield. One of the guest speakers was Florence Wald, the humble, yet inspiring, founder of hospice in America.

A poignant scene at the close of the graduation ceremony captured the emotional changes taking place at MacDougall. ...

MacDougall Warden Mark Strange noted that hospice training helps create a more peaceful climate inside the prison by fostering feelings of caring, empathy and acceptance among participants.

Some people might object that focusing on the needs of prisoners overlooks their victims. However, no one involved in the MacDougall project has tried to minimize what landed these men in prison. During training, the men went through exercises that put them in touch with their feelings about their victims. Some expressed shame, guilt, sadness, regret, sorrow and remorse, as well as anger at themselves for the suffering they had caused. They see hospice as one small way they can do something positive while serving time. ...

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