Conference at Maine State Prison in Warren Highlights Inmate Hospice Program 

A discussion of how to care for an aging population and how to ethically treat those facing the end of their life, took place at the Maine State Prison in Warren.Prison administrators, educators, health care providers and state representatives from Maine and around the country took part.”They’re all here to share in one common theme and goal and that is to better educate themselves and better educate the citizens of Maine that this work has such inherent value,” said Maine State Prison Warden, Patty Barnhart.The prison in Warren has a group of volunteer inmates that have been providing hospice care to those in need.”This was an immediate fit. The aging population continues to grow and the needs continue and 800 prisoners, approximately, so we only have “x” number of staff that can deliver those hands on services and the prisoners were more than willing and were able to be trained,” said Barnhart.It’s a way for those in need to get care, but it’s also turned into a way for inmate rehabilitation.”It’s also really, for many of us, the ultimate in rehabilitation, for these men, is learning how to provide care and care for another individual,” said the Executive Director of the Maine Hospice Council, Kandyce Powell.”I’m doing a long sentence and unless parole or something comes around, I’m probably going to end up, if I don’t live until my release date, die in here and I want to give back to the community that I may one day need myself. There’s so much personal growth that I’ve gotten from the program itself,” said a volunteer of the Maine Hospice Program, Santanu Basu.”What I can do while I’m here is to offer myself to be a provider of care, a provider of comfort, but not only that, to let a person know that he’s still important and he’s still a part of the human race,” said another volunteer of the Maine Hospice Program, Robert Payzont.The inmates think they’re lucky to have been given the chance to learn from the hospice director. She believes it’s all for the greater good.”When you look at the long-term effect of this for society, many of these men are going to be released, so if we can help them in a rehabilitated way, how lucky that is for everybody,” said Powell.