By Rachel Leber
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Minnesota state and local officials gathered on Dec. 6 at the Minnesota Correctional Facility, St. Cloud to celebrate the completion of the first phase of a two-part project, which includes a brand-new health center for the facility. The new St. Cloud health center more than doubles the space previously used for health services and will open to inmates in the middle of December.
The St. Cloud prison is 128 years old, and its last renovation was close to 50 years ago when a new dining room was built in 1970, according to Carol Krippner, associate warden of operations in a recent interview with SC Times. The newest upgrades will help the prison recruit and retain staff and improve safety in the health center, according to Krippner.
The previous health care space included a 6,300-square-foot space with little private work space or separation from inmates for 30 medical staff, including two dentists, 19 nursing staff and one doctor. In addition, an eye doctor comes weekly and a physical therapist visits twice a month. In addition, inmates previously had to get their medications near the waiting line for the cafeteria, which in addition to being noise was not secure.
The new health care center provides 15,000 square feet and includes new staff-only spaces for medical records, a staff break room and a nursing station. In addition there is a nurse locker room, large waiting areas and state-of-the-art dental chairs. The new health care center also has secure windows to dispense medications out of, solving the previous issue of securely giving out medication to inmates.
With 350 to 450 men passing through the facility each month, all with varying health issues and some who haven’t been to a doctor in years, the new facility is an important addition to St. Cloud, according to April Zamora, nursing supervisor at St. Cloud.
The addition of the new health care center was funded with $18 million in bonding money provided by the Minnesota Legislature. The next phase of construction at St. Cloud’s will cost $19 million, and will involve renovation of the intake area where inmates enter and leave the prison. In addition, phase two will also bring updates to laundry and warehouse spaces.
For more information on the St. Cloud project, stay tuned for more in-depth coverage in our January/February issue.