The Health Services Unit at Dodge

Posted: April 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Health Services Unit (HSU) at Dodge Correctional Institution, the reception center for the Wisconsin’s Prison system, is roughly equivalent to the clinic you might go to for non-emergency care.  Before an inmate can be seen, they fill out a “blue slip” stating what the problem is, but before they see the nurse, a $2.50 fee is docked from their funds, similar to a co-pay.  That sounds cheap but if you have no income, it’s not.  But I’m sure they do it to discourage abuse.  However; if it’s an ongoing issue, such as my cancer diagnosis you’re not charged. There is no charge for prescriptions.  That’s probably a good thing too as I think they have a tendency to overmedicate people.  You will often see some of those people struggling at standing count to get their feet as the meds have left them like zombies.  Keep in mind, that is an uneducated observation though.

The way it works is HSU will send passes to the guards on the units indicating what inmates and at what time they are to be seen.  The inmate walks down to HSU, and is buzzed in by the guard of the desk.  This guard on weekdays we’ll call Migel.  He is a short, heavyset Hispanic male.  He is extremely rude and verbally abusive to inmates, especially newer ones.  He has no business being a professional corrections officer.  Even other guards in confidential discussions agree with this.  After he reviews your pass, you are told to take your seat.  Most inmates are here to get through the evaluations required in the A&E process.   Hearing, vision, dental, DNA swab, and a physical are given.  All of this is located in this HSU department.  Those with dental checkups are seated in the first two rows, with Migel yelling at those that leave a seat between them or not moving down a seat when the next dental exam goes in.  If you are found to have dental problems, they only will pull teeth at Dodge.  Supposedly, any advanced work is done at the next institution.  The rest sit anywhere, and the rest of the tests are typical.  However; if you wear glasses and the frames are worth over $70, you are made to mail them out to someone, and you are given state issued glasses.  We call them “birth control glasses” as no woman would ever touch you if you were wearing these!  Unfortunately, yours truly is stuck with those.  If you ever see me on the outside, don’t even ask, you’ll never see them on me!

Then there are those of us, like myself, who must make regular trips to the HSU, some 2 or 3 times a day, to get meds, blood work or vitals done. I’m at this point in that category.  I’m getting meds at 8 am and 8 pm and for 4 days after chemotherapy, I get an injection of red blood cells which is suppose to produce white blood cells since my counts are so low.  It’s not suppose to hurt, but I don’t jump for joy when getting them.  Yes, I know, you women reading this are saying, “Men are such wimps!”.  Yes, we probably are.  Just a regular bunch of mama’s boys!  But seriously, I bet some men here visit HSU for various complaints for more often than they would on the outside.  I wonder if its at many times a desire for attention, a need for human touch (through gloves of course), or a person to express empathy for them. Most of the time they won’t get it though as the nursing staff, who usually are top notch, but see through their behavior.  There are times I see people who I think are truly sick, but they don’t think so and they are sent away.  Of course, I’ll never know the outcome.

Truly, I could do without the attention of HSU.  The only thing I like is the walk there and back to Unit 21.  Long ago, I accepted the loss of touch and empathy from others, hanging onto memories gone past of such things from people that cared about me, as my way to cope with loneliness.  But more about that soon.

Once you are done in HSU, your nurse signs your pass and time you were done.  You have to check in with Migel prior to leaving, who usually uses the opportunity to dismiss you doing so in such a way as to try to make you feel insignificant.  I feel sorry for such people, who use others to make them feel good about themselves.  Someone like him doesn’t cause me to feel insignificant.  At times, I do a great job of that all on my own without any help.

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and your thoughts! I had BCDs in the Navy. After the initial laughing at each other, we all saw the benefit of having glasses when you need them.You have an excellent blog. Keep it up, please, I\’ll read them all.

    • Teresa says:

      Can inmates at Dodge wear contacts or do they make you were the birth control glasses?

      • lifewps says:

        Thank you for your question. We are waiting for Jake’s response to give you the correct answer, but we believe the answer is no contacts. We will confirm when we receive a reply from Jake. Thanks.

      • lifewps says:

        Thanks for reading. No contact lenses are allowed. The good news is once he leaves DCI (Dodge Correctional Institution) and goes to his assigned prison, in most cases if he has money on his books, he can purchase a pair of frames from one of the vendor catalogs. Suggestion, Submit a request while at DCI for a copy of the eyewear prescription. You’ll need it to place the order and getting the copy after DCI is a pain. Jake

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