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Photo by Taiana Martinez

The Rushville, Illinois, facility, where I am, has restarted therapy groups. However, several units have gone on and off lockdown for two week quarantine periods. We were told this was done mainly as a precaution because some staff showed symptoms, and some residents refused to be tested.

The staff and therapists are still required to wear their masks and face shields all the time.

To go to the dentist, we must have our temperatures taken. After the visit, the dentist must wait an hour before she can see another patient in the office. The dentist was required to sign a contract establishing what she could not do, in order to return to work. 

This list includes  no regular cleanings, fillings or drilling. If a patient needs a tooth extracted, she has to be certain it will not break or shatter. If she thinks a tooth will break, she can not pull it. She must submit a request for the resident to be sent to an outside dentist. If she is able to extract a tooth, she can only use manual tools, nothing air or water powered. After an extraction or surgery, the dentist must wait an hour and a half before she can see another patient.

In order to get a haircut, we have to wash our hair and face before we leave our unit. When we get to the barber shop, we have to wash our hands, have our temperature taken, and wear our masks the entire time.

To see the eye doctor, medical doctor, sick call nurses or the phlebotomist, we just go to health care when we are called. One resident after another is seen this way.

For residents who see the psychiatrist, they have a phone consultation in any empty room at that time.

Our visits still have not returned.

Medical and court writs have started again although the courthouses that have the ability to conduct video court have chosen to do so. This is a relief for us residents who would otherwise have to ride in a van, cuffed and shackled for several hours; only to have the courts continue their case.

Further updates to come.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Benjamin Harbaugh is a writer incarcerated in Illinois.