Very cool news out of Cranston, a new medical director at the ACI…
CRANSTON — For decades, from apartment buildings in the devastated South Bronx to a medical practice in rural Foster, Dr. Michael D. Fine has been trying to reinvent the medical-care system.
Now, he’s going to prison to do it.
Since February, Fine, 56, has been director of medical services for the Department of Corrections, a job that gives him authority over a 76-member staff that is responsible for dealing with the medical and health issues for around 20,000 people a year; 4,000 sentenced inmates in the Adult Correctional Institutions and the 16,000 who cycle through the Travisono Intake Service Center, which holds suspects for anywhere from a few hours to months as they await court appearances.
And from a medical perspective, they need help. According to a 2005 analysis of health care at the ACI, the HIV rate there was four times the state average. About 20 percent of inmates had hepatitis B virus and 25 percent had hepatitis C.
Fine said some estimates are that as many as 85 percent of those in the ACI have a substance-abuse problem. The other major area is mental health care, with 10 percent to 15 percent of ACI inmates in need of some type of treatment.
Rather than be daunted by those numbers, Fine said, he’s excited. The ACI is a chance for nurses and doctors to work in a place where they are unquestionably needed and can do a lot of good every day.
“This is going to be the most exciting primary-care center in the country,” he said.
Reading between the lines, it’s clear that investing more in drug treatment and mental health will save us grief and money, but it’s a tough sell in hard times. A CCC and WPA would do us a lot of good. Maybe we can buy the Pres a cigarette holder and a squishy hat.