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Alaska Is not Providing Adequate Oral Healthcare to Incarcerated People

After myriad complaints from individuals incarcerated at Alaska’s Goose Creek Correctional Center about inadequate dental care, the state ombudsman, Kate Burkhart, decided to investigate. Complaints ranged from delaying treatment of an abscess for more than 2 months to waiting for dentures for over 2 years; most were related to the prison’s absence of dental care altogether. The investigation revealed systemic issues, including chronic delays, staff shortage, and lack of routine dental services. With more than 20% of those incarcerated on a waitlist for care, the facility only provided extractions and infection treatment, neglecting routine exams, prophylaxes, restorative therapy, and denture fittings. The absence of a dental hygienist for more than 2 years exacerbated the situation. The Department of Corrections acknowledged the findings and pledged to address staffing shortages and improve communication with the incarcerated population. Initiatives include hiring additional dental staff, renovating facilities, and updating policies. Despite challenges, efforts are underway to rectify the deficiencies and ensure those incarcerated receive adequate dental care, recognizing the importance of fulfilling the department’s obligation to provide comprehensive healthcare to those in custody. Click here to read more.

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