[WATCH] New medical centre at Corradino Correctional Facility to offer onsite treatment for most ailments

Prison doctor says more than 90% of prisoners have taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as Corradino Correctional Facility opens new state of the art medical centre

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri says the new health centre within the Corradino Correctional Facility will cut down outside medical visits
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri says the new health centre within the Corradino Correctional Facility will cut down outside medical visits

More than 90% of prison inmates have taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Corradino Correctional Facility resident surgeon Christopher Cremona.

The number of coronavirus doses administered within the prison has surpassed 1,000, including officials, with Cremona saying on Wednesday that the pandemic in prison never got out of control.

Around 50 inmates had COVID-19 and all recovered from the infection. Since the start of the pandemic more than 4,000 swab tests were carried out.

Cremona was speaking at the inauguration of a new medical centre at the CCF that will offer inmates onsite treatment for most ailments and reduce the burden on community health facilities.

The centre which cost €600,000 was formally opened on Wednesday by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri.

It contains a number of treatment rooms, two rooms for short medical stays, a dental x-ray machine a medicines preparation area, a lab to carry out blood and urine tests and other amenities.

Work on the centre, which is fully-licenced to operate as a medical clinic by the public health superintendence, was mostly done by prison inmates and officials.

Journalists were invited for a tour of the clinic; however, photos and video footage was provided by the CCF since no cameras were allowed in.

Cremona and other doctors wore prison guard uniforms. When asked whether this was appropriate, the surgeon said that doctors were free to wear what they wanted but some chose to wear the uniform provided by the CCF. Even the prison chaplain was wearing the uniform.

Cremona said that the clinic helped cut the number of medical escorts to hospital and health centres, which were a strain on prison resources and community health facilities.

Medical escorts dropped to 1,100 in 2020 from 2,300 a year before and these are expected to go down further as a result of the latest investment. The clinic operates on a 24/7 basis and eventually doctors will be able to have online consultations with specialists at Mater Dei Hospital.

Cremona explained that the CCF had three doctors attached to the Paola prison and a fourth at the forensic unit at Mount Carmel Hospital.

The CCF employs six full-time nurses, three psychiatrists, one podiatrist, two charge nurses and a call was recently issued for a dentist.

Cremona said that around 400 prison inmates required medicines to be administered three times a day, while 45 inmates were on methadone treatment to treat drug addiction.

“With the help of the psychiatrists we have implemented methadone reduction treatment and from three litres of methadone distributed every day we are now down to one litre,” Cremona said.

The minister said the medical centre is responding to the needs of a growing prison population.

He said it helped reduce the pressure on prison resources for medical visits to hospital.

CCF director Col Alexander Dalli thanked the prison inmates and officials who worked on the project, noting that very few private contractors were involved.

Speaking to journalists during the tour, Dalli said the secret to controlling the spread of COVID-19 within the prison was a strict cleanliness regime adopted by inmates, rigorous testing and immediate isolation of positive cases.