University Park, IL,
14:41 PM

Dr. Coffey to present prisoners' health care disparities at national conference


Congratulations to Governors State University College of Health and Human Services Professor Dr. Vickii Coffey, Ph.D., who was recently awarded a scholarship from the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health (ACCJH) and the opportunity to present her research  in a conference in April.

A pre-eminent interdisciplinary organization, ACCJ strives to advance the science and practice of health care for individuals and populations within the criminal justice system.  At the organizations 2022 Academic Health Policy Conference on Criminal Justice Health, Dr. Coffey will present “Barriers and Facilitators to Health Care for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated African Americans.” The research explores barriers to quality health care among African American men and women recently released from Illinois Prisons and/or Cook County Jail.

The study examined participants’ experiences with health care before, during, and after incarceration.  Findings from the study revealed their difficult decisions such as choosing between co-pays for healthcare and paying for basic survival needs, pre and post release from prison, said Coffey, who is the principle investigator on the research, working with several co-researchers, including Nursing Professor Shirley Spencer,  Ph.D. 

 Coffey said the research findings are heartbreaking.

“In prison, state pay amounts to about $12-$15 a month. Prior to securing an appointment with a prison physician, incarcerated persons must be examined by a prison nurse on at least three occasions and each time they are charged a $5 co-pay which could quickly amount to a month’s pay” Coffey explained. “So persons in prison must choose between attending to crucial health needs or purchasing basic necessities—like food, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, socks and under garments and other daily life needs.”

Though she’s grateful for the conference scholarship and membership, Coffey said she’s most excited to network with ACCJH members from across the disciplines of corrections, medicine, research, policy advocacy and social work, who are equally committed to removing barriers for an extremely marginalized group of people.

“I want to give voice to those who don’t have a voice outside the cell,’’ she said. “This is a human rights issue.”