Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prison System Diagnoses First Probable Case of Swine Flu (H1N1) Virus

Medical Receiver Calls for Halt to Visiting and Non-Essential Activities

SACRAMENTO - An inmate at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County has been diagnosed with a probable case of the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as Swine Flu. This is the first probable case within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In response, CDCR and the court appointed Receiver over inmate medical care are taking all appropriate precautions to protect public health.

"The single probable case of H1N1 Influenza is mild and the infected inmate and his cell mate are confined to an appropriate setting and receiving appropriate care within Centinela State Prison," said Dr. Steven Ritter, California Prison Health Care Services Acting Chief Physician Executive. "We are closing visitation and non-essential activities at all of our institutions statewide as a precautionary measure according to our established protocol to protect the public, the staff, and the inmates. The continued well-being of the staff and inmates is essential in order to contain any further potential outbreaks and avoid additional exposure to the public at-large."

Effective today, CDCR has stopped all visiting and other non-essential activities including volunteer activities, special events, and other non-staff related inmate and youth programs at prisons, youth facilities, and community correctional facilities. Critical and legally mandated activities, such as attorney visits, medical and psychological evaluations, contract services such as Substance Abuse Programs, and court ordered social worker and other visits, will continue with added precautions.

"The Department takes the threat of a Swine Flu influenza outbreak very seriously, and is taking all precautions to limit possibilities of exposure and prevent any spread of the virus. The health and safety of the inmates in our care and the staff members who provide for their custody is our primary concern," said Scott Kernan, CDCR Undersecretary of Operations. "We have comprehensive plans in place to respond to natural disasters, pandemics, or any other issues that may arise. In anticipation of a confirmed case of Swine Flu, CDCR activated its Department Operations Center at Headquarters last week to ensure that all institutions are on stand by and prepared to respond."

CDCR has approximately 68,000 employees and oversees nearly 170,000 adult inmates and youth offenders. The Department has taken numerous steps to protect public health by posting and distributing information to educate inmates and staff on proven practices to stop the spread of this communicable viral infection. CDCR is working closely with state Department of Public Health, and local health departments, to curtail the spread of this virus.