BEND, OR -- Full-time nurses have been on staff at the Deschutes County Jail since August, but there are plans to bring more on-board. Captain Deron McMaster became Jail Commander in July and says he didn’t expect the hiring process to take so long. "I can’t imagine when a nurse enters nursing school, that they’re like, ‘hey, I want to go work in a jail.’ I think most nurses think they’re going to work in a clinic somewhere or a hospital. I don’t think they dream of working in a jail. It’s been difficult to find good, qualified nurses, especially nurses that do have a corrections background."
But, Capt. McMaster tells KBND the program is moving forward. "We have five nurses on, and we’ve achieved our goal in the sense of we’ve put nurses on 24/7; we’ve assigned a nurse to each one of our jail teams, which works 4/12s, so we do have 24/7 coverage." And, he says the goal is to hire three more so that two are on duty each shift, and can cover vacations or sick time.
Corrections prospective nurses must be willing to undergo specialized training. "We can’t just bring someone in off the street and have them start working in the jail. They have to be aware of all of our protocols, which are completely different from a hospital, from a safety and security standpoint. Even just personal relationships with the inmates is different, in the sense that there are a number of people in the jail that are good at manipulation and they’ll try and manipulate staff to get their way. If you’re not aware of those things, you can be easily sucked into a situation that’s not good."
At the same time, he says they must remain compassionate. "I think there’s a time and a place where they need to be very direct, they need to realize when they’re potentially being manipulated and they need to be able to say ‘you need to stop that, or I’m not going to buy into what you’re trying to do.’ So, they have to walk that fine line because they still do need to be compassionate and caring, because that’s what nursing is all about. That’s what we think of nurses as being."