Sunday, May 3, 2009

Swine Flu and the Stewart Detention Center

I have had a few very concerned Stewart Detention Center (SDC) officers ask me about the swine flu epidemic. Which is only natural I guess with all of the Swine Flu hype in the media. A few people have even gone so far as to ask me if they should wear a mask on the job at SDC. Evidently there is some concern regarding Swine Flu that the SDC administration is not adequately addressing.

It is my understanding that all of the intakes at SDC receive chest x-rays for TB. While I am far from a medical expert, it is my understanding that swine flu would also be detected through this test if it existed in the individual being checked for TB. Since apparently CCA/SDC administration is not answering your concerns regarding swine flu then I would instead consider checking with medical directly. I would hope that the medical authority in place at SDC would give you medically correct information if you asked them directly.

I do not think that staff at SDC really need to be overly concerned with Swine Flu. Just because you are around someone from Mexico does not mean that they have Swine Flu. That's just a silly way to think. Look at it this way, In New York City I understand that a large number of school students now have (and have spread) Swine Flu. It appears that they caught Swine Flu while on a school trip to Mexico. From what I have seen and read the majority of these Swine Flu carriers to the United States were Caucasian. Using the same type of logic that says "OMG Mexicans have swine flu! Run for your lives!" Would you therefore need to run in terror every time a white school aged child approached you in the North East? From what I have read New York City so far has way more Swine Flu cases than have been found in the rest of the US. So if it would be absurd to run from a teenager in New York then it would be equally absurd to prejudge a Mexican just based on his country of origin as being a swine flu carrier. Also keep in mind that many (if not most of the Mexicans) being held at the SDC have not been to Mexico for several years. Most of them were working and living in the United States since before this outbreak.

It is a shame that the Administration in place at SDC is either not adequately addressing staff concerns or just does not realise how concerned some SDC staff members are with this whole Swine Flu situation. Often it is more than a few crash gates that separate the administration from the line staff at SDC. While it appears that the staff morale situation has improved some since Warden Vance Laughlin (Good luck Adams County Correctional Center!) left SDC it also appears that it still has a way to go. It sounds to me very much like a failure of SDC management to address your concerns that has apparently created the fear and unknowing situation that seems to be in place with at least some SDC staff. I would like to encourage the leadership of SDC to make it a priority to alleviate the Swine FLu concerns of the SDC employees before it turns into something worse. The best way to do that might even be for some middle and upper level managers to not hide out behind a desk and make the rounds in the facility that they should be doing anyway. This would at least demonstrate to line staff that you are not scared of a phantom swine flu virus in intake or a housing unit.

Seems like we just might be learning something about ourselves out of this whole Swine Flu mess. Don't fall for the media hype. Swine flu is not a biblical plague sent from Mexico to kill us all. It is not Captain Trips/Project Blue. Don't panic and lets all treat each other well. If we do that then we should all get through this just fine.