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Prison Nurse


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About the Author

As an Occupational Therapy Assistant, a young Ellen Kane felt frustrated when her patients complained of pain and she was unable to medicate them. She first became a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked at the University of Minnesota hospitals, where she was encouraged by her Registered Nurse colleagues to return to school and get her RN degree. She did just that and graduated from Lakewood Community College in 1985 as an RN. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Management from the University of St. Mary's ten years later. Less than a mile from her home was the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, a maximum-security prison built in 1910-14. People in Stillwater called prison work a good state job. She applied. She worked the nightshift her first six months - the only nurse for 1,400 male inmates. Ellen became adept at treating a myriad of illnesses because the inmates had them all: cancer, kidney failure, mental disorders, AIDS, heart disease, and more. She ran medical codes and managed fifty diabetics. The inmates repaired school buses and made farm implements, leading to frequent accidents in the industry buildings. Adding to the drama were the emergencies in the recreation yard and cell halls when inmates were fighting. When inmates wanted an aspirin, they would line up at a pill window for a nurse to hand them two at a time. When guards searched the cells during contraband shakedowns, they often found piles of aspirin, Tylenol and unopened pill envelopes, leading Kane to conclude that many of the men lined up just to see a smile, have a laugh or feel the touch of the nurse's hand. After ten years, Kane's knowledge of AIDS led her into research, where she joined the AIDS Research Consortium at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center. More research now in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and the promise of sunshine led her to Los Angeles in 2008, where she worked as a research nurse at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, retiring from UCLA in 2015. She is also a Legal Nurse Consultant. . Ellen Kane lives by the beach in Southern California with Coach, her 90-pound Bernese Mountain dog.

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