The Arizona prison faces federal sanctions on prisoners’ health care.
The company supervised the treatment of prisoners in state prisons without constant care. A former doctor’s E-mail describes a grim picture that should be improved in court reconciliation.
David green, host:
Now let’s turn our attention to Arizona, where state prisons may face new federal sanctions because of court cases involving prisoners’ health care. Corizo n offers health care to prisoners. A former prison doctor accused the company of deliberately withholding treatment and drugs to reduce costs. Corizo n has accepted the court order as part of a settlement with hundreds of thousands of prisoners who have been charged with treating them. This is the story of Jimmy Jenkins from member station KJZZ and NPR’s criminal justice team.
JIMMY JENKINS, wired: like many people with serious illnesses, Neil Wiles needs consistent care. He suffers from full-blown AIDS and other complications. But he never got treatment.
NEIL WILES: there are three main drugs that I take. If I hadn’t put them all together, they wouldn’t have done anything good.
JENKINS: some days are two pills, the other days are one. He said he had not had contact with an expert for months. There are many others like him.
CORENE KENDRICK: we see cancer patients receiving chemotherapy in time. We see people with severe pain who are not properly treated.
JENKINS: Corene Kendrick is a lawyer representing 33,000 other inmates at Wiles and Arizona prisons, who sued their medical treatment in 2012. They have reached a settlement, and the state should provide better health care and more professional care.
Ginis: but court records show that despite the settlement, collison has not hired enough experts. That angered the federal judge overseeing the case, who suggested the company refused to treat patients to save money. Under the agreement, Corizo n submitted a report to the state to show that they met the prisoners’ health care standards. But a former prison doctor questioned the company’s report. Dr Jan Watson has worked in health care for more than 30 years. Then she took a job at Arizona state prison.
JAN WATSON: I’ve never seen anything like it.
JENKINS: she said that Corizo n deliberately understaffed their clinic and refused to provide professional health care. Even emergency requests for patients with heart attacks and seizures have been rejected.
Phil Watson: just no, no, no, always.
JENKINS: Corizo n Health didn’t challenge Watson’s claim, but CEO Stephen Rector said they were cleaning up another company’s mess. Corizo n took over the state prison medical contract for another private company, Wexford Health Services, in 2012. Since then, Rector says, the compliance rate has improved.
STEPHEN RECTOR: the common misconception is that we benefit from providing low quality care. Nothing is more remote than the truth.
JENKINS: but David Fathi, a lawyer representing the ACLU, says that’s exactly what happened. He believes the Corizo n data, even after a state review, is questionable.
DAVID FATHI: month after month, in multiple prisons, we found that their compliance Numbers were wrong. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t even have to calculate the goals they need to reach.
Ginnis: other times, fattie says, keeping records looks more like fraud, a claim the company denies. But they must face the charges in court. Dr. Watson’s E-mail led to an investigation into the Corizo n Health. Federal judges will hear testimony this week to decide whether stricter oversight is needed. This may include the designation of an independent monitor and the execution of a settlement with a fine.