The Regional Psychiatric Centre. Corrections Canada.Pt.2.
Walking the Walk.
After passing through the metal detector, the metallic clunk of the lock being released on the inner door, allowed the visitor to begin the long walk across the courtyard to the main building. As I walked across the courtyard I noticed a pretty cozy-looking tiny house to my right that spiked my curiosity. I had to find out its purpose. It seemed all pink and fluffy.
"What's that little fairy tale cottage over there all ?" I asked.
The guard, whose name was Gil grinned. "We call that the 'Fuck Hut', er I mean the 'Love Hut'" he said. "That's where the poor deprived prisoners, er, I mean inmates - they don’t like the erm prisoners here,spend the night for a cosy little interlude when the wife or as they say nowadays ‘significant others’, comes to visit. They can't be denied their conjugal rights, you know."
He laughed again. "One guy's wife phoned a couple of weeks ago to know why he was being allowed to bring in a hooker who swore she was his wife. It's not a bad life here once they get used to it."
As I approached the second set of security doors, I wondered if I was going to have to go through the same routine again but they were expecting me and a loud clunk sounded as someone in security who had been following our progress on multiple video cameras, sprung the release. The tightly controlled security nerve centre, to which I was only admitted once by a friendly guard, was very high tech and any part of the institution could be monitored in detail or locked off, if deemed necessary. Once inside the building, the guard behind the desk said, “Hold on a minute doc, and we’ll take you on a guided tour of the institution and wind up in the clinic where you'll be working. I’ll show you around and introduce you to the clinic nurse who'll be working with you.”
The circular corridor was divided into sections so that any area uprising could be instantly isolated to prevent spread. The large steel gates unlocked noisily as we approached each section and locked equally noisily after we had passed through.
" Very smooth," I said. Canadians were efficient in those days and did what had to be done.
Inside the circle of the building was a large central area where the prisoners were allowed to exercise and in the centre of that area was a beautifully landscaped cultivated area. I noticed one or two men picking daintily at the edge of the turf.
"The prisoners do a really nice job of maintaining these gardens," I said to Gil.
Gil laughed at me again. "This place is maintained by the biggest and best landscaping company in town, Doc. I wish I could afford them. The only prisoners who work in the garden are those who request to do so, provided they are not considered too dangerous. Prisoners can't be coerced into working and those who volunteer have to be paid."
We stopped at a point in the corridor where a locked door on the left had a sign that read 'General Medical Clinic'.Gil pressed a button and spoke into a speaker. "Okay, we're here at the clinic. Let us in."
Again the loud clunk of unlocking. We walked in. I looked around the clinic area. This clinic looked better than my family medicine clinic at University Hospital! The clinic itself was well laid out, no intrusive security precautions apparent and better equipped than my office at University hospital. Corrections Canada is federally funded never seemed short of money, whereas health care provincially funded was always in need.
"This is your Nurse, Doctor Smith,” said the guard, introducing me to Heather, a pleasant young woman who looked about fifteen years old and who wouldn't have weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet. I have a daughter who is a nurse and I couldn't help thinking I wouldn't want her working here. It was a hazardous job but Heather turned out to be a fearless young woman who seemed to manage two hundred and fifty pound six foot two giants comfortably. Thought I, she’s a better man than I am!
"I hope That you always have adequate security when you're working in this Clinic.
“ Oh yes, I have my belt alarm,'' she said, indicating the gadget attached to her belt. “All I have to do is press this button and there's someone here right away. Most of the time there is a guard right in the room with me."
"I think that we'll have to change that a little and tighten up the security. When we are seeing patients there will be a guard in the room at all times and if it is a patient with a violent history there will be two guards in the room and another just outside the door in case we need it.”
"Well there is patient confidentiality to consider, some of the guys don't want anyone hearing about their personal problems," Heather said.
You bet they didn’t!
"In this situation I think our safety is more important than patient confidentiality so the guys will just have to suck it up. If there's any problem with that then we need a meeting with management. Further,if there are investigations or treatments that can't be done here at this institution and patients need transfer to university hospital, facilities will have to be developed to move them promptly, observing all the appropriate precautionary measures necessary. Because these guys will have to be handcuffed and ankle cuffed when they're being taken over to University Hospital and two guards and a driver will be necessary to undertake the journey safely.”
After inspecting the clinic, the team, which had now grown to include a couple of administrative bodies, continued on to inspect the living quarters of the inmates. Each prisoner had what we in the competitive outside world would call a studio apartment. Some of my patients who worked hard trying to make a decent living did not live as well as these inmates.
Next, the nurse shepherded us into the dining room which was more like a middle range restaurant than a jail.
"The staff can eat here too, so if the clinic runs on a little late you could save a little time and then go on to your office, " said Heather, and then added, "You should try to make it on a Thursday," she smiled, "because on Thursday we get steak! That’s a rule. Steak once a week”.
Who said 'crime doesn’t pay?'.