Rose M. Singer Center care of diabetic inmates by education


L-R: Dr. Raiza Katz, Edzer Roche, Dorlmarie Brown, Marie Oreste, Dr. Lisa Choleff, Margaret Witter and Bryan Persaud

Diabetes education and management classes are now being offered to diabetic inmate patients at The Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC) on Rikers Island (NY), a Corizon partner. The Spring 2013 class recently celebrated the completion of the six-week curriculum by munching on healthy snacks and discussing how to continue managing their diabetes.

Diabetes is a major public health threat both inside and outside the jail. Approximately 15-20% of all women admitted to RMSC report a history of diabetes, and some suffer from co-morbidities as well.

“The inmate patients had no idea about the disease process, but once they learned, they found results,” Marie Oreste, a certified nurse and class instructor, said in a recent interview. “The inmate patients tell other inmate patients about the benefits of the classes,” she said, explaining the growing popularity of the program.

Dorlmarie Brown, RN, CCHP, Site Director of Nursing, is coordinating the classes assisted by Ms. Oreste and Edzer Roche, Physician Assistant, and the New York City Department of Corrections Clinic captain. Ms. Oreste’s extensive experience and commitment to promote a healthy lifestyle enable her to connect with each inmate patient to promote application of newfound knowledge while incarcerated and upon release.

“It was a celebration of shared knowledge about diabetes,” one participant wrote, “We were taught about types of diabetes, treatment and self-care.”

The classes are offered once each quarter. In order to receive a certificate upon course completion, the participant has to attend each weekly one-hour session. The curriculum teaches about the disease process and reinforces the importance of self-management, healthy eating habits, exercise and compliance with treatment regimen. At the final session, the inmate patients are treated to healthy snacks provided by the education team.

“As a nurse, one of my passions is to take care of my patients,” Ms. Oreste said. To ensure comprehension of the course content, she pays individual attention to each participant. “It is my inner reward having patients educated, understood and feeling good about themselves,” she continued.

RMSC is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In July 1988, women’s activist Ms. Rose M. Singer cut the ribbon at RMSC’s opening ceremony attended by, among others, Mayor Edward Koch. In 1985, Rikers Island became the first jail in the country to house a jail-based baby nursery. Ms. Singer dedicated nearly 35 years to correctional services and served on the New York City Board of Corrections from its creation in 1954.

RMSC has 800 beds and an average daily population of 763 adult, youth and pregnant women. In addition to the baby nursery, RMSC offers other health services tailored to the needs of its population.

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