By Sam Brattain
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Many of the expectant mothers incarcerated at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis will deliver their babies in Anderson under an agreement between the Indiana Department of Correction and Saint John’s Medical Center.
According to hospital President Tom VanOsdol, Saint John’s will serve as the department’s primary care provider for inmate pregnancies.
The prison, which is on the west side of Indianapolis, is about an hour’s drive from Anderson.
Most of the expectant mothers transported to Anderson will have been scheduled for delivery and induced once they arrive, VanOsdol said. In emergencies, such as an active labor, inmates will not be transported to Anderson but instead to a hospital in Indianapolis.
VanOsdol said the prison has its own obstetrician/gynecologist who oversees the pregnant inmates, and will work with the hospital to schedule an appropriate time for delivery.
While being treated at the hospital, VanOsdol said inmates will be accompanied by two correctional officers for security.
Last week, Channel 13 WTHR reported that Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis ended its agreement to be the primary care provider for the prison. Chris Duffy, vice president of Corizon Health, which is the DOC’s health care vendor, told the station that Wishard ended the arrangement after a reduction in Medicare reimbursements by the state.
DOC spokesman Doug Garrison said the department spoke to a number of hospitals to replace Wishard, but it was a difficult process.
“Some health providers don’t want to provide services to inmates,” Garrison said.
VanOsdol said the hospital has provided services to the department before, but accepting to be its primary care provider was central to the hospital’s mission of providing safe and compassionate health care, regardless whether the patient is a criminal.
“It’s part of who we are,” he said.
VanOsdol estimates the hospital will see approximately five women a month, and said his staff will be “perfectly able” to take on the additional work.
As soon as the mother is physically able, she will be transported back to prison, VanOsdol said. If the woman is going to be incarcerated for an extended period of time, VanOsdol said the inmate’s baby will become a ward of the state.
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