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MCF-Rush City COVID-19 Response

(Reviewed June 2, 2020)

Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell has directed each of the state’s prisons to implement “Stay with Unit” plans to provide living unit separation, and to minimize the potential for COVID-19 spread. “Stay with Unit” ensures incarcerated individuals participate in facility activities, including any programming, yard time, and dining, only with others in their living unit. By providing living unit separation, better social distancing becomes possible and we minimize the potential for widespread outbreaks across entire facilities.

The following additional measures have been taken to protect those within the Rush City facility. This list is not necessarily exhaustive of all measures in place.

Masks: Cloth barrier masks have been distributed to staff and incarcerated people at all DOC facilities. Each person has been given instructions for how to care for the mask, how to put it on, and how to take it off safely. Staff are required to wear a mask when in the facility.

MFC-Rush City Health Services staff have N95 masks, and there are a limited number of N95s for corrections officers to use when escorting symptomatic inmates to isolation, or when packing up the property of a symptomatic inmate. The DOC follows Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for when and how personal protective equipment is used.

Co-Pays: We have waived all medical co-pays for the duration of the Governor’s declared emergency to ensure no one is discouraged from seeking care.

Protecting Staff and their Families: MCF-Rush City has implemented a number of measures to protect staff and their families. Similar to staff at health care facilities, DOC staff have been provided guidance for steps to take to protect their families while they continue to come to work every day. Information has been distributed and is on posters at the facility for washing hands when they leave work, designating a door of their home just for them to enter and exit, changing clothes and showering when they get home, and avoiding sharing food, among other steps.

Hand washing stations: MCF-Rush City has installed new hand washing stations in the facility. One station was installed in the lobby to the facility. Other hand washing stations were installed at the Visitor entrance, and in the Watch Center corridor. All individuals are required to wash their hands when entering, and exiting the facility. Several additional hand sanitizer receptacles have been installed throughout the facility for both staff, and inmates. Inmate restrooms and kitchenettes have sinks to wash hands. All individuals (staff and inmates) are encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

Isolation Plans: MCF-Rush City has an isolation plan in place. Since Rush City has closed front cells, inmates determined to need isolation will be isolated in their current cell assignment. If they have a cellmate, the cellmate would be quarantined separately. Inmates on isolation and/or quarantine would be allowed phone calls as facility/unit schedules permitted with at least one call per day. Inmates on isolation or quarantine would retain all of their property. If isolation or quarantine included having to move to another unit or cell, the inmate would pack their own property and move it with them.

Phones: MCF-Rush City inmates now receive two free five-minute phone calls per week in addition to the standard calls they could already purchase. Phones are cleaned with germicidal cleaner multiple times a day.

Video Visiting: Loved ones on the outside now receive one free 15-minute video visit per week. Additional video visits can also be purchased at a reduced rate, and hours have been adjusted according to specific unit schedules. Video kiosks are cleaned with germicidal cleaner multiple times a day.

Showers and Bathrooms: MCF-Rush City inmates have access to daily showers and have toilets in their cells.

Recreation, Yard, and Courtyard Time: Outdoor recreation time is still occurring. Certain no contact games are still allowed, as is playing catch, using exercise equipment, and lifting weights. Social distancing is achieved by having only one wing at a time in their own gym and is monitored by security staff. Disinfecting of equipment is done with germicidal cleaner and monitored by security staff. Gyms and yard time has been reduced from 60 to 50 minutes in order to compensate for longer meal and cleaning times. Rush City requires each wing to go into their own gym and yard with no intermingling.

Screening: All staff are have their temperature taken and are screened on a daily basis for recent symptoms. If they have been symptomatic, a physician’s approval is required to return to work. All staff are provided with protective masks and are required to wear them.

Food Services: MCF-Rush City is serving lunch in the dining hall. Units are called down in halves to accomplish social distancing, and inmates use every other seat. After each unit exits, the hall is disinfected prior to another unit entering. Breakfast and evening meal is delivered to living units.

Work : Rush City has inmates working in the kitchen, industry (Plastech, Anagram, license plates), corridor crew, gym workers, barbers, education, and all unit workers. Workers practice social distancing.

Medication: Rush City continues medication distribution via the pill window, and now calls only nine inmates at a time. Provider appointments are completed in Health Services and organized by the unit. Sick call appointments take place in the living units.

Mail and Emails: Inmates can still send and receive mail and emails as they normally would. Additionally, Rush City inmates receiving legal mail are called to property by unit to receive those mailings. Legal mail to those in Complex 1 West, in isolation or quarantine have their legal mail delivered directly to them.

Canteen: Items purchased from the inmate store are still being delivered to the living units.

Education: Rush City developed a plan to provide testing administration, and law library access in education, by unit, and with socially distancing. Currently, all education instruction is being conducted remotely through distance learning. Career Technical program Heavy Equipment provides instruction in education. Book carts are available in the units for library, as well as kite requests to the library for needed/requested resources.

Treatment: Rush City inmates participating in Supportive Living Services and Offenders Achieving Safety in Society will be provided programming materials through distance learning. Therapists will provide documents for continued participation in programming and will provide 1:1 meetings when necessary within the living unit.

Television: Rush City inmates have access to televisions in their rooms.

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