DOC designates prison in Airway Heights as possible COVID-19 overflow site

Inside the beekeeping program at Airway Heights Correction Center
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AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. — The Airway Heights Corrections Center has been identified as a potential regional care facility should there be a COVID-19 outbreak in the Washington state prisons system.

In a staff memo sent Thursday, Washington Department of Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair said the DOC requested an external assessment to see if the department could support an overflow of infected inmates.

A team of state healthcare representatives identified suitable locations for potential sites, which would all include beds, nursing areas and hand washing stations.

The AHCC was identified as a suitable location, as well as the Washington Correction Center.

“These RCF’s would be conversions of preexisting spaces to provide overcapacity support to agency operations on both the east and west sides of Washington state,” Sinclair said. “RCF’s will also help mitigate the stress on resources, staff and incarcerated populations.”

The RCFs would safely and comfortably house incarcerated individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and may require more comprehensive medical attention and physical isolation, but do not require hospitalization.

Sinclair said planning is moving forward with preliminary site establishment at both AHCC and WCC anticipated to begin within two weeks. Other considerations are being reviewed for additional RCFs at the Washington Corrections Center for Women and Monroe Correctional Complex.

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