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Alabama Department of Corrections

September 7, 2007 Birmingham News
The Legislative Contract Review Committee on Thursday delayed implementation of a $223 million prison health-care contract after an official with a company that bid $9 million less questioned the process. The panel also delayed a $3.7 million Medicaid contract to computerize medical records after lawmakers questioned the company's performance in other states. The Contract Review Committee reviews state agency contracts. Committee members can delay the contracts for 45 days but do not have the power to cancel them. The Department of Corrections, after taking proposals, selected Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis to provide medical care to Alabama's more than 20,000 inmates. Another company, Wexford Health Sources, had submitted the low bid that was about $9 million cheaper than Correctional Medical Services'. Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, and other legislators asked Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen why the department had not selected the low bidder. Allen said Correctional Medical Services scored slightly higher on bid reviews, which take quality of care into account. "I don't know that Mr. Holmes would go to the cheapest doctor in town," Allen said after the meeting. Lawmakers also questioned that the prison staff who reviewed the bids included several former employees of CMS. Allen said none had worked for the company in at least six years. "I have full confidence in these people. There was no politics involved in this selection," Allen said. But Michael Davis, a lawyer representing Wexford, said company officials wanted to meet with the commissioner before the contract was finalized. Davis said company officials had questions about how bidders' scores were determined.

September 5, 2007 Huntsville Times
The state corrections commissioner was questioned by legislators Wednesday over a $233.73 million contract for health care for Alabama's nearly 26,000 inmates. Commissioner Richard Allen is seeking approval of a three-year contract with St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc. CMS would take over a contract now held by Prison Health Services Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn. Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, a retired physician, endorsed the CMS contract, which would have two potential one-year renewals. "I have a keen interest in (prisons), particularly the health care," Griffith told the committee. "We're rapidly moving into the baby boomers going through the prison system just like we're going through it outside the prison system." Griffith said health care for convicts is a "major, major cost factor" for the state, but he added that "we're capping it with this contract and I think it's well thought out." The committee has the power to delay the contract for 45 days but cannot stop it from being enacted. Some members of the Joint Legislative Contract Review Committee questioned Allen about members of his staff who formerly worked for the two private companies and were involved in the selection process for CMS. A third company that submitted a proposal, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, was represented by an attorney who said he will ask for an explanation of the grading process when the committee meets again today. Allen acknowledged that Wexford's bid was about $6 million lower than CMS. "We evaluated the contracts very carefully," said Allen. "All the bidders were told that price would be 40 percent of the score and other things - innovations, cost savings, those types of things - would be scored 60 percent." Allen said Wexford scored third. Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, said he was concerned that Department of Corrections employees who formerly worked for CMS and PHS were on the team that graded proposals submitted by the three companies. But Allen defended the process, calling prison health care "a very narrow specialty." "If you look at the resumes of these (DOC) people, they have worked for several companies, not just this company (CMS)," he said. "Nobody in our department has worked for this company in the last six or seven years. They've also worked for PHS. They've also worked for about a dozen other companies. They go back and forth between the companies and state service."

Arizona Department of Corrections
Jan 9, 2014 azcentral.com

A nurse working for Corizon Inc., the private health care provider for Arizona’s Department of Corrections, improperly injected and exposed at least 24 inmates to a “blood-born pathogen.” The company and the state have declined to provide specific details about the incident. Corizon disclosed Wednesday morning in a press release that one if its nurses on Sunday evening was involved in “inproper procedures for injections” for at least two dozen inmates at three units at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye. This is the second time in about 18 months that a private prison contractor has improperly injected inmates at Buckeye. A nurse for Wexford Health Sources Inc., the prior health care provider, caused a hepatitis C scare in August 2012 by contaminating the prison's insulin supply. Susan Morgenstern, a Corizon spokeswoman, declined to say why the company waited three days to notify the public. Doug Nick, a Department of Corrections spokesman, also declined to answer questions about the incident, referring questions to Corizon. “It’s a medical issue. They are the doctors and nurses,” Nick said. “We are not aware of any correctional officers at risk.” Blood-borne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration’s website. Corrections last year hired Corizon after it agreed to terminate the medical-services contract to provide health care for inmates statewide with Wexford. That decision came amid accusations that Wexford improperly dispensed medicine to inmates and wasted state resources. To replace Wexford, the state agreed to a more expensive contract with Corizon of Brentwood, Tenn., to become the health-care provider at all Arizona-run prisons. Corizon, the country's largest provider of correctional medical care, took over March 4. Corizon, like Wexford, has a history of problems providing health care in other states. The three-year deal with Corizon cost taxpayers at least $372million, but Corizon has the option to seek additional funds in the final year. That contract is at least 6 percent higher than Wexford's $349 million, three-year deal.

 

February 01, 2013 Courthouse News

PHOENIX (CN) - The Arizona Department of Corrections said it will replace its for-profit prison health care company with another profit-seeking firm, after a federal class action that claimed the state provides "grossly inadequate" medical care to prisoners. Corizon Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn., "will be responsible for the provision of health care to inmates at the Arizona Department of Corrections' ('ADC') state-run facilities" beginning March 4, according to a filing in the pending court case. Corizon will replace Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources. The ACLU, which filed the class action nearly a year ago, was not impressed. "Merely replacing one for-profit prison contractor with another will only prolong the crisis in Arizona's prisons. There is no reason to think that anything will change under Corizon Inc.," ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Dan Pochoda said in a statement. The ACLU of Arizona filed the class action with the Prison Law Office of Berkeley, Calif., attorneys with Perkins Coie of Phoenix and Jones Day of San Francisco, and Jennifer Alewelt, with the Arizona Center for Disability Law. According to the lawsuit: "For years, the health care provided by defendants in Arizona's prisons has fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements and failed to meet prisoners' basic health needs." Named as defendants were Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan and the state's Interim Director of Health Services Richard Pratt. "Critically ill prisoners have begged prison officials for treatment, only to be told 'be patient,' 'it's all in your head,' or 'pray' to be cured," the complaint stated. "Despite warnings from their own employees, prisoners and their family members, and advocates about the risk of serious injury and death to prisoners, defendants are deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk of pain and suffering to prisoners, including deaths, which occur due to defendants' failure to provide minimally adequate health care, in violation of the Eighth Amendment."

September 28, 2012 Arizona Republic
The Arizona Department of Corrections has levied a $10,000 fine against Wexford Health Sources Inc., a new private medical-care provider for inmates that is accused of improperly dispensing medicine and wasting state resources. The DOC called on Wexford to fix staffing problems, properly distribute and document medication for inmates, show a sense of urgency and communicate better with the state when problems occur. Wexford was fined over the actions of a nurse who caused a hepatitis C scare in August at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye, and for failing to properly report the problem to authorities. Corrections Director Charles Ryan in a statement said the state's demands, called a cure notification, give the state and Wexford an opportunity to "improve communications and ensure the health care needs of the inmates incarcerated by the State of Arizona are being met." Ryan was not available to answer questions. Bill Lamoreaux, a DOC spokesman, declined to answer specific questions about the matter. Wexford was hired after the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature pushed to privatize inmate health care to save money. The DOC in strongly worded letters to Wexford alleges the company forced the state to use public employees to fix its deficiencies. The amount of wasted tax dollars was not disclosed. Arizona houses close to 40,000 inmates. Lamoreaux declined to answer if taxpayers were still saving money with Wexford's services.

September 4, 2012 Arizona Republic
A nurse for the new medical provider for Arizona prisons may have exposed 103 inmates at the Buckeye state prison to hepatitis C by contaminating the prison's insulin supply, and state and local health officials were not alerted for more than a week. Officials with the state and Maricopa County health departments, who confirmed to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that they had not been informed by Wexford Health Sources Inc. of the problem, said they will launch investigations into the incident. Official notification of the Aug. 27 error only came late Tuesday afternoon, hours after an inmate's family member had told 12 News of the potential health risk. State rules require health-care providers and correctional facilities to notify health departments within five business days of a hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment or detection. Wexford said it suspended the nurse on Aug. 27, immediately after learning the person "had violated basic infection-control protocols while administering medication that day." "In talking with the Department of Health Services, they believe it should have been reported first to the county," Corrections Director Charles Ryan said late Tuesday. "That is a question we will have of Wexford -- as to the lack of notification or an explanation as to why that did not occur. "The department has concerns about this issue, and we will be having further discussions with Wexford in terms of this requirement and some other issues as well." Ryan said the incident occurred when a diabetic inmate who also has hepatitis C was administered a routine dose of insulin by the nurse on Aug. 27. The needle used on that inmate was inserted into another vial to draw more insulin for the same inmate. Ryan said the contaminated needle was inserted into a vial which was then put back among other vials in the prison's medication refrigerator. It got mixed up with other vials used throughout that day to administer insulin injections to more than 100 other diabetic inmates. Later that day, Ryan said, officials realized that the vial that potentially had been tainted with hepatitis C may have been used to dose other inmates. At that point, the nurse in question was suspended and prison officials sought to determine how many inmates may have been exposed. All the vials of medicine were destroyed after the discovery. Wexford spokesman Larry Pike on Tuesday minimized the potential exposure of other inmates. He said that the company acted "expeditiously" to identify those who were potentially affected and that the company believes the potential for their exposure was small. Though corrections officials and Wexford declined to name the nurse, the Arizona State Board of Nursing identified her as Nwadiuto Jane Nwaohia. She has been under state investigation since June 2012 for unsafe practice or substandard care, but the board would not provide additional information on the nature of the previous problem. Corrections officials first acknowledged the matter Tuesday morning after 12 News asked about the incident at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, which houses 5,382 inmates in minimum- to maximum-security facilities. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and causes liver cancer. Seventy-five to 85 percent of people with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shoana Anderson, head of the state Office of Infectious Disease Services, said one of the biggest dangers for those infected with hepatitis C is "it sits in the liver quietly, and 20 years later, a person can develop severe liver disease." Anderson and Jeanene Fowler, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said Wexford should have notified them of the issue. "It's extremely disturbing that something like this could happen. It calls for a thorough investigation to determine all of the surrounding causes of the mistake or the negligence," said Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, a prison watchdog group based in Berkeley, Calif. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group in Tallahassee, Fla., called the incident "scary" and said it shows a lack of oversight by corrections officials. "This is a problem with privatization," Kopczynski said. "They are just accepting who Wexford will hire." Wexford, which has previously lost contracts for poor service in other jurisdictions, this spring won a $349 million, three-year contract to provide health care for Arizona inmates. The company began providing services for nearly 40,000 Arizona inmates on July 1. In a written statement, the Pittsburgh-based company said it suspended the nurse immediately upon learning she "may have compromised a vial of medication by placing it in contact with a previously used syringe." Wexford, in its statement, said a local staffing agency assigned the nurse to the prison complex. The company said that at no time was the same syringe and needle used on more than one patient and that no staff members were exposed. Wexford said it reported the nurse to the state nursing board for investigation, but that did not occur until late Tuesday afternoon, after the news had been reported. The company also banned the nurse from working under any of its contracts in the future. Wexford provides health-care services nationwide to roughly 124,000 inmates and other residents at more than 100 institutions. The state said inmates exposed were notified and are being screened for infectious diseases. An independent laboratory under contract with Wexford will provide continuing medical monitoring and testing of the potentially exposed inmates over the next several months, the state said. All patients will be informed of their results, though Ryan noted that some inmates may previously have been exposed to hepatitis C.

May 12, 2012 KPHO
It's supposed to save taxpayers money and reduce the likelihood of lawsuits. However, there is growing concern that when a private company takes over the inmate health care program for Arizona's Department of Corrections this summer, there could be a new set of problems. The Corrections Department is already under fire for how it treats inmates, based on an ongoing lawsuit that accuses the state of widespread abuse and mistreatment of thousands of inmates. The lawsuit calls the current prison health system "grossly inadequate." The Corrections Department is about to a change, bringing in an out-of state company to privatize health care for prison inmates. Daniel Pochoda is legal director of the ACLU of Phoenix one of the groups that filed the complaint against the state. He's told CBS 5 News that the company coming in, Wexford Health, will do nothing to improve the treatment of inmates, and actually cost taxpayers more money. "It's profit motive when you talk about private companies," Pochoda said. "The bottom line is making a buck and if that means reducing their costs and not having sufficient number of doctors or specialists, it occurs all too frequently. CBS 5 News checked into Wexford Health and found a number of past problems. In 2009, Clark County, NV, declined to renew a contract with Wexford at its county jail after complaints that Wexford wasn't dispensing medication to inmates in a timely fashion. In 2007, New Mexico terminated a statewide contract after an audit found shortages of physicians and dentists. Wexford was also tied to a payoff scandal in Illinois, where the state director of corrections, Donald Snyder, served two years in federal prison after accepting a $30,000 bribe from a Wexford lobbyist. No Wexford officials were charged in the case.

Broward County Detention Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
December 10, 2004 Sun-Sentinel
A new health management firm has taken over the care of the 5,200 inmates in Broward County's jail system after a dispute between the Sheriff's Office and the previous contractor over medical costs.
Armor Correctional Health Services began work last week under its five-year, $127 million contract even though it did not yet have a license to dispense medicine. Armor replaced Wexford Health Sources, which first pushed for more money and then suggested cutting services despite the opening of a new detention center in the past year. The Sheriff's Office chose Armor over Wexford and two other firms that bid on the contract even though the Armor had only recently been incorporated. The company's chief executive officer is Doyle Moore, who previously founded Prison Health Services -- a longtime player in correctional health care in South Florida. Col. James Wimberly, who runs the jail system for Jenne, said the Sheriff's Office decided to put the contract out for bid after Wexford suggested a 12 percent increase in what it was paid. In the bidding process, Wexford's proposal was $300,000 less than that of Armor but would have cut eight positions from the jail system's medical staff.

Clark County Jail, Clark County, Washington
December 17, 2009 The Skanner News
In the wake of a required 60-day background investigation by local officials, the racial discrimination tort claim by three law enforcement employees against Clark County Corrections has expanded into a full-on lawsuit seeking millions in damages. The lawsuit, detailing more than a dozen instances of racist harassment that allegedly took place throughout the past 20 years, has been brought against the county by former Clark County Sheriffs Department Commander Clifford B. Evelyn, 58; former corrections officer Britt Easterly, 39, now with the U.S. Secret Service in Washington D.C.; and Elzy P. Edwards, 46, an unsuccessful applicant for Clark County Corrections who is now working with the Washington Department of Corrections. Evelyn is seeking $1 million, while Easterly and Edwards are asking $500,000 each in damages. A 20-year veteran of the corrections department who had recently been honored for his efforts to promote diversity in its ranks, Evelyn was fired in June after an Internal Affairs investigation found he had violated general orders regarding “harassment,” “courtesy” and “competency.” In the joint lawsuit against Clark County, Edwards, who unsuccessfully applied for a job at Clark County Corrections, alleges that the hiring process was unfair; Easterly, as well as Evelyn, allege they were subjected to a long-standing atmosphere of racist incidents and comments. Evelyn also alleges unfair treatment at the hands of Clark County Corrections Chief Jail Deputy Sheriff Jackie Batties, as well as management and staff of Wexford Health Solutions, the company contracted to provide health care services at the jail. Documents obtained by The Skanner News show that a former Wexford employee, who has since been convicted of stealing cash from a co-worker’s purse, filed a complaint against Evelyn this year that kicked off a chain of events resulting in his firing. Evelyn had for the past two years reported on Wexford Health Sources’ failure to meet the terms of their operations contract, including submitting a detailed report in writing delivered to his supervisors at Clark County more than a year before the county’s own performance audit confirmed his allegations. Elsewhere around the nation, in July of this year million-dollar lawsuits were filed against Wexford corporation and New Mexico state corrections officials by incarcerated men and women alleging similar problems – even deaths -- at Wexford-managed health programs in the state’s prison system. Also in New Mexico, a Black dentist won a racial discrimination case against Wexford in November of 2008 when the company was found guilty by a federal jury of paying him a smaller wage on the basis of his race. Clark County contracted with Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Solutions in 2006 after problems cropped up with their former jailhouse health care provider, Prison Health Services. Clark County officials signed a three-year, $9 million contract with Wexford set to expire in 2010. Its May, 2009 report, prepared by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning, was intended as a performance audit. Several documents obtained by The Skanner News show that reports Evelyn had filed with superiors in 2008 about Wexford’s failure to meet the demands of its contract were validated by Clark County’s performance audit. In a series of memos to his superiors dated before the release of Clark County’s own report on Wexford’s performance this past June, Evelyn had outlined specific examples of the corporation’s failure to follow the terms of its contract with Clark County, from lack of a written operations manual to untrained staff, lack of medical supplies onsite and a tendency to “short” the jails’ medical services that forced Clark County to pay out more in resources to cover the gaps. The chief finding of Clark County’s own investigation into Wexford was that “the company has systematically failed to comply with the many complex undertakings included in its contract with the county.” Evelyn, Easterly and Edwards were unavailable for comment at press time. Clark County officials are declining media requests while the legal case is pending.

October 16, 2009 The Skanner News
Former Clark County Sheriff's Department Commander Clifford B. Evelyn, fired from his job in June of this year, had repeatedly detailed shortcomings by Wexford Health Sources in fulfilling the terms of their contract to provide health care to county inmates more than a year before the county’s own performance audit did, records obtained by The Skanner News show. Evelyn, an award-winning 20-year veteran of the Clark County corrections department, is one of a trio of men who last month filed racial discrimination tort claims against the Clark County Sheriffs department. Evelyn, who is seeking a $1 million judgment, was fired after an Internal Affairs investigation found he had violated general orders regarding “harassment,” “courtesy” and “competency.” Race and Law Enforcement -- Evelyn declined to speak to the press before a ruling on his tort claim, which alleges incidents of racial harassment from his co-workers, trainers and superiors in Clark County corrections dating back to 1989. In addition to Evelyn, tort claims for $500,000 each have been filed against Clark County by former corrections officer Britt Easterly, now with the U.S. Secret Service in Washington D.C, and Elzy P. Edwards, an unsuccessful applicant for Clark County corrections who is now working with the Washington Department of Corrections. All three are represented by Portland attorney Thomas S. Boothe. In September of 2008 the City of Vancouver settled for $1.65 million with former Vancouver Police Officer Navin Sharma, a native of India and eight-year veteran of the bureau. Sharma brought a racial discrimination case after being fired for allegedly making errors and “using repetitive language” in his DUI reports. He had previously won a 2000 racial discrimination complaint from the city for $287,000. Evelyn, Easterly and Edwards’s tort filing triggers a 60-day investigation into the claims by the county, and may be followed by a lawsuit. Report Backs Up Whistleblower -- Clark County contracted with Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Solutions in 2006 after problems cropped up with their former jailhouse health care provider, Prison Health Services. Clark County officials signed a three-year, $9 million contract with Wexford set to expire in 2010. the county’s May, 2009 report, prepared by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning, was intended as a performance audit. Several documents obtained by The Skanner News show that memos Evelyn had filed with superiors in 2008 about Wexford’s failure to meet the demands of its contract were later validated by Clark County’s audit. In a series of memos to his superiors dated before the public release of Clark County’s own report on Wexford’s performance this past June, Evelyn outlined specific examples of the corporation’s failure to follow the terms of its contract with Clark County, They range from lack of a written operations manual, to consistent deployment of untrained staff, lack of medical supplies onsite and a tendency to “short” the jails’ medical services that forced Clark County to pay out more in resources to cover the gaps. “In February 2007 Clark County awarded the inmate health contract to Wexford Health Source, Inc.,” Evelyn wrote in a July, 2008, memo to Gene Pearce, Clark County deputy prosecuting attorney. “Since that time there have been numerous issue(s) whereas Wexford has not met the terms of the contract and in many cases violated contractual terms leading to concerns surrounding liability for the Sheriff’s office.” The chief finding of Clark County’s investigation into Wexford was that “the company has systematically failed to comply with the many complex undertakings included in its contract with the county.” Consistent Problems -- The issues raised by Evelyn, as well as the county’s report, are echoed in recent lawsuits against Wexler filed this past summer in New Mexico. Evelyn’s laundry list of Wexford’s contract violations included the lack of any operating manual or written procedures; inadequate staffing and medical supplies; inadequate training and oversight for medical employees; delays in providing medicine and services to chronically-ill inmates; promotion of workers into positions where they were not properly licensed, and even a refusal by some mental health counselors to provide services to inmates they “didn’t like.” Clark County’s investigation singled out the lack of a policies and procedures manual; lack of a staff management improvement program that Wexford had pledged to institute as part of its initial bid for the contract; staffing, management and communication failures; inadequate staffing levels; lack of training; problems with licenses and credentials; inadequate medical records and obstacles in pharmacy arrangements between Wexford and the corrections staff. Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Journal newspaper reported on July 17 of this year that a Wexford doctor, as well as state corrections officials, are being sued for medical malpractice in the case of a prisoner denied adequate treatment. The newspaper has also reported on numerous other charges that have been filed in New Mexico alleging sexual assault by a Wexford mental health counselor. The lawsuit and charges followed a 2007 performance audit that faulted Wexford’s operations in the Southwestern state.

Florida Department of Corrections
July 25, 2013 cjr.org

MIAMI — With Florida embarking on an ambitious effort to privatize much of the state’s prison healthcare—the largest such undertaking in the nation—the time is ripe for journalists to take a deeper look into the history of such programs, and the companies getting massive contracts for taxpayer dollars. Newspapers in Florida have nibbled around the edges of this complex story, and problems with privatization efforts in prisons have been investigated periodically by news outlets around the country. (There are also, of course, plenty of problems with publicly-administered jails and prisons—more on that to come). Yet despite problematic records in other states, and even in Florida, the two companies privatizing healthcare at Florida prisons—Corizon Inc. and Wexford Health Sources—have received little recent scrutiny here. The Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald statehouse bureau has written about the court fight to stop the privatization, which state workers ultimately lost in June. The Times/Herald team has also noted that Corizon, the company that is about to take over healthcare at every Florida prison north of Palm Beach, to the tune of $230 million, has faced problems with contracts “from Maine to Idaho.” But these companies can be hard to track. Corizon was created in 2011 with the merger of Prison Health Services and Correctional Medical Services, companies that have had their own issues in the past. For example, Prison Health Services had to pay $5 million in fines and restitution in 2004 to resolve a Florida Medicaid fraud case, and has periodically lost contracts around the country because of concerns about cost overruns or problems with service. Correctional Medical Services has had its own difficulties in other states, and even in Florida. It has lost or walked away from contracts as close to home for Florida reporters as Palm Beach County. The for-profit prison healthcare industry is hard to penetrate, with tangled relationships and complex histories. A year before Palm Beach County dumped CMS in favor of a local company, Armor Correctional Health Services, Broward County dumped another company, Wexford Health Sources, in favor of Armor (which also has a contract with Hillsborough County jails). Armor was founded by the founder of Prison Health Services, and is “politically connected,” according to a story this month by The Tampa Bay Times that looked at the challenges and high costs of jail healthcare. Wexford hasn’t been written about as much in Florida, though it recently took over health services at nine state prisons in South Florida with, as the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “a five-year contract starting at $48 million a year.” But it has faced issues in other states. Corizon replaced Wexford in Arizona earlier this year, less than a year into Wexford’s conract, after Wexford was fined by the state and drew a class action lawsuit by the ACLU alleging “grossly inadequate medical care.” Corizon has seen a dramatic uptick in lawsuits filed against it, but those numbers may only reflect the dramatic increase in contracts Corizon has gotten recently. A deeper look is warranted. Wexford, too, appears to be seeing an increase in lawsuits, though its name is not as unique, and easily searchable, as Corizon’s. Again, there’s an opportunity there for an enterprising reporter to dig into the data. For-profit health companies serving prisons and jails aren’t the only piece of this puzzle that is ripe for investigation. Private companies running entire facilities have also come under scrutiny by reporters, prisoner advocates, and the Department of Justice. Last month the Atlanta Journal Constitution noted that a company running a juvenile lock-up in Georgia was singled out by a Justice Department survey that found it had the highest percentage in the country of sexual contact between the children and staffers— with 32 percent of inmates reporting such contact. The AJC noted the company, Youth Services International, has had problems in every state where it has a contract.

January 4, 2013 TCPalm.com
MARTIN COUNTY — Healthcare employees at two areas prisons will be laid off in the next three months as part of a privatization plan, the Department of Corrections announced Friday. All of those who will be let go, however, will be able to interview to get their old jobs back under the new management, said Ann Howard, corrections spokeswoman. The outsourcing, which will happen at correctional institutions in Martin County, Okeechobee County and seven other South Florida prisons, could save the state $1 million monthly. The Corrections Department will lay off 36 healthcare employees at the Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown and 24 at the Okeechobee Correctional Institution in Okeechobee. Overall, termination notices were handed to 400 employees at the nine facilities this week, Howard said. All will have the opportunity to interview with Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, with which the state signed a five-year, $48 million annual contract to handle infirmaries at the prisons. Howard said Wexford is expected to hire the amount of employees as will be let go at the nine prisons. In other privatization deals done by Wexford, the company rehired about 90 percent of the former staff, Howard said. Corrections officials have used privatization for various other services at its facilities, she said. The South Florida prisons were covered by a budget provision calling for privatization of their health services. The other affected prisons are in Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte and Miami-Dade counties. A judge blocked plans to outsource health care at other prisons because they were not included in the budget provision. The department is appealing. State officials have looked to other cost-cutting measures in recent years for the prison system. Last year, corrections officials closed the Indian River Correctional Institution in Vero Beach, as well as six other prisons and four work camps. The move was expected to save about $90 million during a two-year period. The Indian River closing laid off 155 employees.
July 17, 2012 Tampa Times
The Florida Department of Corrections said Tuesday it will move ahead with plans to privatize all health care for the nation's third-largest prison system, even after a stalemate in court and the expiration of legislative budget language that authorized the sweeping change. Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker issued a late-afternoon statement calling the decision "best for the Department and taxpayers." "This step will allow us to provide the same services we currently have which meet state and federal standards, while saving money for the taxpayers." The action could trigger a new round of litigation by a labor union that represents nurses who work in the system. The Legislature last year ordered the agency to privatize all health care as a money-saving move, by inserting budget language known as proviso and requiring a savings of at least 7 percent over 2010 costs. In April, Tucker announced a decision to tentatively award contracts to Corizon Health in most of the state and Wexford Health Sources in South Florida. Two unions filed a lawsuit. A state judge in Tallahassee did not rule in the case before the fiscal year ended on June 30, and the proposal also required approval by the Legislative Budget Commission, which never took action on it. Florida has more than 100,000 inmates in its prisons. This would be the most extensive single privatization venture ever undertaken by a state prison system in the U.S. Attorneys for the state contend that privatization can be done by the agency without a legislative mandate. "Change isn't easy, and we know sometimes it can be unsettling," Tucker said. "However, the hard work of our employees is greatly appreciated and recognized."

May 25, 2012 The Florida Current
In the coming weeks, Tallahassee judges will hear arguments in two court cases that will test the limits of lawmakers' power to order outsourcing in the state budget. The first of those, which challenges the Department of Corrections' effort to privatize health care in the state's prison system, will come before Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll on Tuesday. In a case that could affect the future of thousands of state worker jobs and almost $300 million in contracts, the Florida Nurses Association is arguing the Legislature did not have the authority to order the department to privatize inmate health care without passing a standalone bill. The lawsuit builds in part on Judge Jackie Fulford's ruling this fall, which blocked the privatization of state prisons in 18 South Florida counties because lawmakers ordered the move in budget language, and Fulford found the procedure conflicted with existing state law. That case will be heard in late June by the 1st District Court of Appeal. The state and the two companies in line to receive health care contracts are arguing the department has the authority to issue the contracts. Court papers filed by Wexford Health Sources say the nurses association is building its arguments on an "erroneous conclusion based on a superficial reading of Judge Fulford's ruling." State law requires prison officials to develop a "business case" that shows the outsourcing will save at least 7 percent, and for the Legislature to provide a specific item in the budget for the private prisons. Those requirements apply specifically to contracts for the "operation and maintenance" of prison facilities and the "supervision of inmates," though, and Wexford says the department has wider latitude when it comes to health care. The state argues in its brief that the department has the authority to sign the health care contracts whether lawmakers order it in budget proviso language or not, and says that unlike the case dealing with South Florida prisons, the department had already developed a thorough business case for health care privatization before the 2011 legislative session. In a brief supporting the nurses association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees argues the state is only authorized to contract specialized services that the department cannot provide on its own, such as substance abuse treatment -- meaning the state would need to change the law to issue contracts for "comprehensive" health care services. Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed Fulford's ruling at the urging of legislative leaders, who have noted that budget proviso language has been used to order the privatization of prison-related services in the past, including in 2000, when lawmakers used proviso to order the department to issue contracts for inmate health care in South Florida, an arrangement that was later abandoned. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has filed a "friend of the court" brief with the appellate court, arguing Fulford's ruling "effectively strips the Legislature of its authority to direct how state funds are to be used to accomplish its goals of privatization," which the chamber contends violates the separation of powers. Stephen Turner, a lawyer for the Police Benevolent Association who is also representing the nurses association, has countered that the constitution requires some budget procedures to be accomplished through general laws. "The purpose for the proviso was to avoid the statutory safeguards, and rush a privatization contract through without fair comparison, careful review, or public scrutiny," he argues.

November 21, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
After making a dramatic decision not to award a $707 million contract for prison health care, the Florida Department of Corrections spent its first day Monday managing the job itself. ''We are very confident that we can do this,'' said DOC Secretary Jim McDonough. ''I have been tracking it hour by hour and it appears that the transition is going very well.'' McDonough stunned the private prison-health-care industry late last week when he announced that the department was rejecting Tennessee-based Prison Health Services' latest bid to continue the work. The company's existing contract expired at just after midnight on Sunday. PHS has a troubled history with the department, one that began earlier this year when it announced it was pulling out of a 10-year contract it originally signed in 2005 because its $645 million bid did not anticipate the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates. The department recently announced that it was fining PHS $696,000 for failing to meet a series of benchmarks, including keeping legible medical records and missing deadlines to assign caseworkers and perform medical evaluations. Regardless, PHS was the department's choice again last month, after it was allowed to compete in a new round of bidding. That changed again after Pennsylvania-based rival Wexford Health Sources Inc. challenged the PHS award, saying that its lowest bid of $689 million should have made it the winner. McDonough said Monday that a new evaluation by outside experts showed that none of the contractors had the financial qualifications to complete the contract. ''Therefore, there were no responsive and responsible bidders,'' McDonough said. PHS spokesman John Van Mol said the company would have no comment. Wexford executives could not be reached for comment. As recently as this month, McDonough praised the effort to hand over the job of treating 16,000 inmates in South Florida to private industry, describing it as a $20 million cost saver for taxpayers. But at the same time, McDonough ordered his contract managers to begin an intensive review process to see if the department could perform the work itself. McDonough said the solution they came up with is a ''hybrid'' form of privatization that involves issuing 145 smaller contracts and purchasing orders. The department does not have to hire additional workers to get the job done, McDonough said. McDonough estimates that there will be a $12 million additional cost to the department in the first year, but that the department will save money in the long run. ''I have, in effect, cut out the middle man,'' McDonough said. ''I think we have come up with a very cost-effective way of doing it.'' Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, has been a critic of the privatization effort since it began under McDonough's predecessor. Aronberg pressured McDonough to impose the fines on PHS, and says he will be watching the department's performance under the new scheme. ''This is too important an issue to have a new policy in place every two weeks,'' Aronberg said.''We are very confident that we can do this. ..... it appears that the transition is going very well.''

November 17, 2006 AP
The Department of Corrections announced Friday that it will divide health services for nearly 18,000 inmates in South Florida prisons among many providers instead of bidding one comprehensive, multimillion-dollar contract. The agency has issued about 115 purchase orders and more than 30 non-bid contracts for its new health plan that goes into effect midnight Monday. A little-used state law provides an exception to bidding requirements for medical services, but two price quotes still were obtained for each contract, said department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. The decision was made after a review by independent auditors caught an error in the state's financial analysis after a second round of bidding for a comprehensive contract last month. The revised analysis indicated all bidders failed to met financial responsibility requirements. In October the agency declared its intent to award a $703 million, 10-year contract to Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., as the only "responsible and responsive bidder" based on the erroneous financial calculations. The contract award had been subject to negotiating final terms and resolving another bidder's protest. The rebidding had been ordered in response to Prison Health Services' decision to pull out of its current $645 million contract, signed earlier this year, claiming it was losing money on the deal. "DOC has a legal and moral obligation to provide appropriate health care, while ensuring the most efficient use of taxpayer money," Corrections Secretary James McDonough said in a statement. "The department has taken all necessary steps to ensure those obligations are met." A spokeswoman for Prison Health Services' parent, American Service Group Inc., declined comment beyond a news release that simply announced the state's decision and that the company will not provide service past Monday. McDonough last month also announced he intended to levy fines against the company for shortcomings under the original contract. Wexford Health Resources of Pittsburgh, Pa., had challenged the department's intent to award the rebid contract to Prison Health Services. Wexford submitted the low bid of $689 million but the department deemed the company was not financially qualified. Wexford did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment. McDonough said he is confident inmates and taxpayers will benefit from the new plan. "This private-public hybrid is a groundbreaking approach to privatization efforts that have brought great savings to Florida taxpayers," he said.

November 7, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
A Pennsylvania-based prison health-care firm filed a formal protest Monday, disputing the Department of Corrections decision to award a $707 million, 10-year contract to a rival company with a troubled history. Wexford Health Sources Inc. filed a 10-page protest late in the day, saying that its lowest bid of $689 million should have given it the advantage and that the department made mistakes in calculating its financial strength. A Wexford executive questioned why the department awarded the bid to Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc., even though the department said Monday that it is fining PHS $696,000 for problems with its past work. ''The question has to come to mind, how can PHS be determined to be a responsible bidder?'' Wexford President and CEO Mark Hale said. Department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said the department received the protest at the end of the business day and would not be able to comment until after it had time to study the document. PHS initially won the job in 2005 with a $645 million bid, tens of millions of dollars lower than Wexford. But PHS abruptly announced it was pulling out last year. PHS said it dramatically underestimated the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates and was losing too much money. However, PHS was invited to compete again when the department put out a new bid. ''Yes, $696,000 is a lot of money, but this is a $78 million-a-year contract and in terms of the overall contract, it is less than 1 percent,'' Plessinger said.

July 28, 2006 St Petersburg Times
A federal grand jury in Tampa indicted seven people Thursday on charges of filing fraudulent income tax returns using inmate identities and getting back nearly $1-million in illegal tax refunds. Daniel Goodheart, 36, a former psychiatric counselor for the Okeechobee Correctional Institution, and Frankie Jackson, 32, a former corrections officer there, were among those who IRS investigators say retrieved inmates' names and Social Security numbers from the Florida Department of Corrections intranet, then used them to prepare false income tax documents for inmates at nine Florida prisons. They are accused of working with John Palmer, 46, an inmate at the time, who prosecutors believe also conspired with four other acquaintances and inmates. In all, the scheme generated U.S. Treasury checks totaling $902,487 for the conspirators, according to IRS special agent Norm Meadows. The checks were processed at several banks throughout the state, including some in St. Petersburg. Goodheart was employed with the prison system through Wexford Health Associates, the IRS said.

September 16, 2005 Sun-Sentinel
Florida prison officials are defending their plans to divide an estimated $70 million annual contract for providing inmate health services at 13 South Florida prisons into four separate but lucrative contracts -- a move that has sparked interest from legislators, lobbyists and vendors. Several South Florida legislators said during a committee workshop Thursday that one result of the changes may be the Florida Department of Corrections weakens standards for the quality of inmate care. State Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors, said his review of contract paperwork shows that corrections officials have, without specific legislative authorization, lowered the guidelines dealing with the size and experience of staff that a private health care vendor would have to meet in order to bid on the contracts. "The standards are not as strict as they were when the contract was set five years ago," Seiler said. "The result of that is ... all of a sudden [the state] could end up with a company that is not qualified to do the job." Five years ago, the state contracted with Wexford Health Sources to provide medical, pharmaceutical, mental health and dental care for thousands of inmates in South Florida prisons. Last year, legislators cut that contract short and ordered that the work be divided among separate specialized vendors. The Legislature's auditing arm called Wexford's medical care "problematic" a year ago.

September 15, 2005 St Petersburg Times
Florida's top prison official has gone to concerts and sporting events with a lobbyist for clients seeking business with prisons.
But Corrections Secretary James Crosby says he paid his own way and that he and Don Yaeger, a Sports Illustrated writer who also runs a lobbying firm, do not have a social relationship. A lucrative contract for inmate health care is on the line, and lawmakers, lobbyists and vendors are all keenly interested. A House committee that oversees prison spending will hold a hearing today on a contract for medical, dental, pharmacy and mental health for 17,000 inmates in South Florida prisons for five years. Yaeger has a client who wants a piece of the action, but others do too. Both Crosby and Yaeger find themselves as human ammunition in a high-stakes battle between rival vendors. Crosby acknowledges that he brought his wife to see the rock band Aerosmith, country singer George Strait , and a rodeo at Yaeger's skybox at the Leon County Civic Center . He also says he saw a Florida State-North Carolina State football game and FSU-Florida baseball game with the lobbyist. Yaeger represents a Miami firm, Medical Care Consortium, which is affiliated with Armor Correctional Health Services, a Broward County firm interested in the South Florida prison contract. But Armor says the state's bid requirements are "unreasonably restrictive," and the firm can't apply for the work because Crosby 's staff requires companies to have served a daily inmate population of 10,000 for at least one of the past three years. The health care firm with the most to lose in the latest vendor battle is Yaeger's main competitor, Wexford Health Sources, a Pittsburgh firm that won the South Florida contract in 2001. Wexford is fighting to keep caring for sick prisoners in South Florida , but it has a troubled past with the Corrections Department. The Legislature's watchdog agency called Wexford's medical care "problematic" a year ago and warned that without closer oversight, the state was inviting another federal lawsuit over quality of care. Things got so bad that the state threatened to impose monetary damages on Wexford, but a state official monitoring the contract, Larry Purintun, cited "substantial improvement" in July. By then, the Legislature had inserted a provision in the new state budget requiring that the contract be put out to bid next month.

Illinois Department of Corrections
Jul 11, 2014 wbez.org

On July 28, 2012, Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois. Two days later, he died. The day after his death a nurse in the health care unit finally got his request slip for medical care. “That means somebody took it and just said, ‘Oh it don’t matter, ain’t nothing wrong with him.’ That’s crazy!” said his sister Jackie Shannon in a recent interview on the front porch of her house on Chicago’s South Side. “Everybody’s entitled to see a doctor. I don’t care, you could live in a hole somewhere. If you come out of that hole and you’re sick, you should be able to see a doctor. How many other ones in there that need to see the doctor are not seeing a doctor?” she said. It’s not unusual for Illinois inmates to complain that they have trouble seeing doctors. In another story, WBEZ reported on Anthony Rencher who went to the prison health care unit in the middle of the night where he was observed in the waiting room for an hour before he returned to his cell where he died. And then there’s the case of Daniel Nevarez. . Letter from the grave: Daniel’s brother Alonzo Nevarez sits on the front stoop of his dad’s bungalow near Midway Airport and reads through a letter his brother Danny wrote from prison. “We got the letter after Danny passed, and it was, it’s him talking from the grave actually,” said Nevarez. It’s in Spanish and Alonzo translates while he reads. “The reason for this card, to beg you to help him, he’s sick, and the people from this facility, no me quieren, they don’t want to help me. These people are not taking me serious. I need help.” According to medical records, in March of 2010 Nevarez complained to a prison health care worker of pain in his knee. The prison took an X-ray but found nothing. The doctor prescribed some drugs and told Nevarez to exercise as much as possible. A year later Nevarez was still complaining about his knee. He was prescribed Motrin and referred to a doctor. The next two appointments with the prison doctor were cancelled, one because of understaffing and another one because there was no security escort. “He called when he was in prison complaining that they were ignoring him. They wouldn’t let him see the doctor,” said Nevarez. The medical records also show that on several occasions Nevarez refused to see health care workers. In one instance he’s quoted as refusing to see the prison doctor because he wants to be immediately taken for surgery on his knee. On another occasion he refuses to pay the $2.00 co-pay and is therefore denied care. Cancer diagnosis: When the mass on his knee was diagnosed as cancer 15 months after his first complaints, the tumor was hard to miss. It was 5 centimeters by 5 centimeters by 3 centimeters. Daniel’s father Salvador Nevarez said his son was complaining that the prison wasn’t giving him health care,  so the family had a lawyer contact the prison. Nevarez went to an outside hospital where the tumor was removed. He also went for 33 radiation treatments. A year after his treatments on December 13, 2012, Nevarez once again sought medical care. According to records he appears to have fainted and gotten a cut above his eye when he fell. He told doctors his head hurt and he couldn’t remember things. A doctor at the facility seems to have decided Nevarez was lying in an attempt to get drugs. The way it’s recorded in the medical record is: “appears to be med seeking.” Nevarez was sent back to his cell. He fell into a coma. A CT scan of his head was taken and it showed he had two large, dense brain tumors and swelling in his brain. He died that day at the age of 31. The autopsy states, “Given the lack of follow up care and systemic chemotherapy for this patient, in combination with with the poor prognosis in general for such a tumor, it is not surprising that he developed widespread metastases a year after diagnosis.” In the death review the department handed over to WBEZ, where it asks, ‘Was an earlier intervention possible?’ the answer is redacted. On the non-redacted version given to the family, it says the cancer diagnosis could have been made sooner, though it says it was, “probably too late for significant intervention.” Seeing a doctor 'can take months': “It’s a symptom of an overloaded system that it takes forever to get over to a doctor,” said Alan Mills, an attorney specializing in prison litigation. “And then once you’re there you don’t see the doctor right away, you go through two or three screening processes before you finally get to see a doctor. So that can take months.”

“There are red flags all over the place,” said Mills. “But without the details, you have to get beyond just saying, ‘well this person died too soon.’ You don’t know that unless a doctor looks at the medical records and says, ‘no this test was done or this test wasn’t done, this is what the follow should have been and it wasn’t.’” That work is now being done by a doctor appointed by a federal judge as part of the class action suit Mills filed over health care. The State of Illinois pays a company called Wexford Health Sources more than $100 million a year to provide health care in the prisons. Wexford did not return repeated calls for comment over the last two weeks. That’s just the most recent refusal—WBEZ has had an ongoing request for an interview with the company for almost two years. Attorney Alan Mills has studied the contract between Wexford and the state. “Wexford gets paid the same amount whether they provide a lot of care or a little care, so therefore, every time they provide care their stockholders lose money. So that is a fine model, but you have to have some control to make sure that they’re actually providing the care that you’re contracted to giving them. Nobody in the state of Illinois regularly audits the Wexford contract, either financially, or more importantly, a health audit to see what the outcomes are that we’re getting,” said Mills. IDOC won't discuss Mills: Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer won’t discuss issues raised by Mills. “I’m not going to discuss anything that Alan Mills says because Alan Mills has been proven to state things that are false, so I’m going to respectfully decline to include any information coming from Alan Mills in this interview. Anybody else you want to talk about, fine, not him,” said Shaer. The medical director who oversees more than $100 million Illinois pays Wexford for medical care refused to speak to WBEZ. WBEZ asked Gov. Pat Quinn’s office about the medical director’s refusal to discuss medical care. After an initial conversation the governor’s office simply ignored follow-up calls and emails from WBEZ. Illinois prisons have low death rates compared to other prisons: Shaer says focussing on just a few cases does not give an accurate picture of health care in the department. He points to Bureau of Justice statistics showing Illinois’ prison system has one of the lowest death rates in the country compared to other prison systems. "We have pretty high standards here. We do the best we can within our ability to monitor that and if we felt that our ability wasn’t adequate, we would find a way to address that,” said Shaer. Independent experts should provide some answers soon: “I see enough things that tell me there are really some warning signs here. I mean there are problems,” said State Rep. Greg Harris. Harris held committee hearings last year to dig into allegations of poor care. “You know in the testimony, in the contacts from individual families, in the lawsuits that have been settled and paid by the state for deaths that should have been preventable, I know there are things that we should have done that we did not do and that there are probably things that we ought to be doing better now,” said Harris. As a result of the hearings, Harris concluded that no one in Illinois is paying close attention to the $100 million the state pays Wexford every year. Harris brought in the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to audit health care, both the finances, and the health outcomes. He says independent experts who know how to evaluate health care in a prison setting are looking at the system and should provide some answers soon. That audit is in addition to a federal court monitor who is also evaluating Illinois’ prison health care system in response to complaints.


Jan 20, 2014 couriernews.suntimes.com

A former Kane County Jail inmate is suing Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, alleging that he was denied depression and anxiety medication during his incarceration, which led to a suicide attempt. Randy Brattin, 33, of Elburn, is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, and has named Perez, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. in the suit he filed earlier this month. Wexford contracts with the jail to provide medical services to inmates, according to court records. Brattin was taken into custody on Nov. 30, 2012, on his fourth drunken driving charge, fleeing/eluding deputies and several other charges. During his incarceration, Brattin said he was denied his prescribed and required medication for the treatment of anxiety, depression and seizures. The suit claims that jail policy is to inventory medication brought in by an inmate, and then to have the Sheriff’s Department’s own medical staff supply the same or equivalent medications to the inmate. Brattin said in the lawsuit that never happened. Instead, he said, doctors never regularly examined him, or contacted his primary care physician or family regarding his medical care. In the suit, Brattin said he notified staff at the jail that he was supposed to be taking the medication. Brattin “never received the medication he requested” the suit alleges. Because of this, Brattin attempted to take his own life by cutting his wrists on Dec. 6, 2012, the lawsuit states. As a result of being denied his medication, Brattin “suffered severe depression, and/or panic attack ... and attempted to commit suicide,” the suit states. Perez would not comment on the pending allegation. Brattin’s case management conference is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Kane County.


March 26, 2013 wbez.org

When William Jessup got to Vandalia prison he went to the dentist. Jessup says the dentist told him he had two cavities and offered to pull them. Wait..huh? “No, you’re gonna pull my teeth out. Any qualified dentist will tell you it’s always best to keep your teeth,” said Jessup in a recent interview at the Vandalia prison in southern Illinois. “I’m assuming it still applies here but obviously it don’t, because I still have the two cavities.” When Anthony Rivera first got to Vandalia prison he caught some sort of foot fungus. His feet started smelling bad and he started getting sores, so he went to the doctor there and the doctor gave him foot cream but it was expired. When he told the doctor it was expired, he says the doctor told him that those were just numbers on the container, not an expiration date. “I’m like, what are you talking about,” said Rivera. “It says 9/17/2010. How that’s gonna be just regular numbers?  He’s like, well you don’t want it then leave, so I took it just to take it.  I put it on my feet but it got worse.” Rivera says the sores on his feet got so large and painful that eventually he couldn’t walk. “They gave me some kind of a shot and it relieved it a little bit but it took a nice three months,” said Rivera. Illinois taxpayers are paying Wexford Health Sources, a private health care company, moe than $1.3 billion over ten years to provide care for inmates in prisons. But most of the inmates WBEZ has talked to say, unless it’s an emergency, they’re not getting the care taxpayers have already paid for. And the Illinois Department of Corrections doesn’t seem to have any mechanism to ensure that taxpayers aren’t being fleeced in the health care deal. One more case. Jeff Elders. (Elders and Jessup were both featured in our story Tuesday about Illinois spending big money on people convicted of relatively minor crimes. Jessup got a four-year sentence for having a stolen license plate sticker. Elders got a couple years for trying to steal $111 from J.C. Penney.) Elders has a hard growth on the palm of his right hand.  He holds it up for me to see and pokes at the hard part. “It’s all along the tendon,” said Elders. It’s climbing probably three inches up my hand on my tendon. That’s all hard, real hard and right here there’s a big ol’ thing. It’s pulling that finger in. They say it’s a calcium build-up.  They called it some kind of hemotobin globin, er...” It’s like a hard stick under his skin that runs from his wrist towards the ring finger on his right hand. It breaks into two strands as it approaches the knuckle, making the growth under his skin look like the letter ‘Y.’ It pulls his one finger back so it’s constantly curled and he can’t straighten it out, and it’s getting worse. He went to see the prison doctor about the problem. “They tell you flat out, they can’t do nothing for you,” said Elders. “Unless it’s an immediate issue, they’re not doing nothing for you. He said, well, I’ll give you some aspirins and I suggest you take care of it as soon as you can when you get out or you’re going to end up like this, all crippled up, but there’s nothing we’re going to do for you here.” Elders wasn’t surprised by the ‘treatment.’ “That, to me, it’s what I’m used to. It’s the system. Everything’s blamed on not enough money. What can you do with that? I have no kind of say so. If you back-talk anybody you’re in trouble,” said Elders. I took some of these stories to the guy in charge of Vandalia prison, Warden Victor Dozier. I told Dozier about Jessup, the guy who was told by the dentist that he had cavities and was also told that all they would do for him was pull the teeth. DOZIER: Really. WILDEBOER: Yeah. DOZIER: That’s hard to believe but.... I also asked Dozier about Elders and the growth on his hand. Dozier said offenders can file grievances. That’s the name for the formal complaint process in Illinois prisons. But in the next breath Dozier all but admitted that filing a grievance on a medical issue would be pointless. “If the doctor states, gives him a rational why he can’t do it, I mean, he’s our medical director. I can’t question what he tells the offender,” said Dozier. Admittedly, a corrections professional shouldn’t be overruling the health care decisions of a medical professional. But then who does vet the health care decisions being made? In written statements given to WBEZ over the last several months, the Department of Corrections has said repeatedly that it oversees health care, holding, “monthly continuous quality improvement meetings.” But the department has yet to provide someone who can explain exactly what happens at these meetings, who’s involved or what information they’re looking at. According to the prison watchdog group the John Howard Association no one seems to be providing meaningful oversight of prison health care. In fact, last year, the John Howard Association reported that the state entered into a more than $1.3 billion contract with a company called Wexford Health Sources without auditing the company’s previous performance in the state. I asked Warden Dozier how he, as the top official at the Vandalia prison, ensures that Wexford is delivering the care that Illinois taxpayers have been paying for. “Okay, I don’t have an answer for that,” said Dozier. The lack of oversight has caught the attention of state Rep. Greg Harris. “Well, I’ve heard similar stories and actually worse, and I’m very concerned that we’re paying about $1.3 billion dollars to a private company to manage health care in our prisons, and I want to look into are we getting quality health care for the folks for the money that we’re paying,” said Harris. Greg Harris has been looking into the health care contract. His interest was piqued by the John Howard Association report last year. Harris says his review of the contract shows that the deal is a good one as long as Wexford actually provides the care they’re supposed to provide. “I mean we can’t take the Department of Corrections word for it and we can’t take the private company’s word for it,” said Harris. ”I want somebody to go in and independently verify that people are being adequately treated.” Harris is planning to hold a hearing on April 4th in Chicago to take a closer look at the contract. He’s pushing to bring the National Commission on Correctional Health Care into Illinois prisons to provide independent oversight. Wexford declined to be interviewed for this story. In fact, the company with a billion-dollar public contract in Illinois has refused all of our requests for interviews. However, in a written statement, they said they provide medically necessary care as required by the constitution while at the same time acting as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Wexford also says it welcomes Rep. Harris’ push to bring a third party into the Illinois prisons to audit Wexford’s performance.

Oct 11, 2012 The Associated Press 
(Raleigh, NC) -- Two guards at a private prison in North Carolina have been charged with accepting bribes to smuggle in cellphones and cigarettes. Rhonda Boyd and Raye Lynn Holley worked as correctional officers at Rivers Correctional Institution, a 1,450-bed prison in Winton, N.C. According to a federal criminal indictment made public Wednesday, Boyd is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and acceptance of a bribe, while Holley is charged with accepting a bribe. The indictment alleges that the two had been smuggling contraband into the prison since early 2011. Rivers is a private prison owned by The GEO Group, Inc., a Florida-based company that contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house federal inmates and detainees. Many of the prisoners housed at the facility are from the District of Columbia.

October 9, 2012 WBEZ News
An Illinois state legislator is demanding answers about a huge healthcare contract for prison inmates. Democratic Rep. Greg Harris from Chicago’s Northwest Side is pushing HR 1248, a House resolution calling for an official examination of how the state failed to audit Wexford Health Sources before signing a $1.4 billion contract with the private health care company last year. WBEZ has been reporting on poor health care in the prisons, and a recent report by the prison watchdog John Howard Association found that no one in the state is checking on Wexford to make sure they’re providing the care they’re being paid for. Harris's audit would change that. Harris says there are 250 lawsuits against the state right now alleging poor health care.  He says he's been seeking proof that Wexford is actually earning the $115 million Illinois pays them every year, but he’s not satisfied with what he’s found. “I got a one-page response from the Department of Corrections saying they're doing it.  To me that's just not adequate,” said Harris. “We need to dig beyond what people tell us that there's no problem here, keep moving, there's nothing to see.  We as legislators need to do our jobs and monitor these contracts.” Harris says dollars are in short supply and there needs to be independent oversight of the enormous private contract. He says Wexford may be providing great care to Illinois inmates, but he wants an independent agency to make sure that's the case.

January 6, 2009 The Pantagraph
Unionized health care workers at 27 Illinois prisons are mulling whether to go on strike over wages. The 350-plus workers are employed by Wexford Health Sources of Pennsylvania, which recently received a two-year, $210 million extension in its contract to provide health care to inmates within the state's sprawling prison system. The health care workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union say they want a wage increase similar to a 4 percent boost the union recently inked with a different prison health care contractor. ''Wexford should not have any difficulty meeting the pay and benefit levels of its competitors,'' AFSCME spokesman Buddy Maupin said Monday. The company, which has given embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich $38,000 in campaign contributions since he took office, did not immediately respond to questions. The Illinois Department of Corrections said the matter, for now, is between the company and the union. ''We hope they come to an agreement,'' said Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp. It isn't the first time AFSCME has tangled with Wexford. Three years ago, union workers threatened to strike, raising the possibility that management-level health care workers would have to provide care to inmates. State officials averted the 2005 strike by firing Wexford and bringing in a new company. Wexford eventually was re-hired and received an extension to its contract in late December worth an additional $5 million over its previous deal.

July 30, 2008 AP
Fighting back tears and apologizing to his teenage daughters, the former head of the Illinois prison system was sentenced to two years in federal prison Wednesday for taking payoffs from lobbyists. ''What I did was absolutely wrong,'' said Donald Snyder, who admitted pocketing $50,000 from lobbyists when he was director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He said he hoped his conviction on the charges would not bias employers against his daughters when they grow up and look for jobs. ''I'm sorry, girls,'' he said, turning to the bench where they were sitting. As he tried to finish his statement, his face turned dark red, he grimaced and was unable to speak. Judge James B. Zagel chastised Snyder, who pleaded guilty, volunteered to be a federal witness, secretly recorded corrupt conversations and testified at the trial of one of the lobbyists. ''I didn't believe much of your testimony and I didn't believe much of your testimony because of your claimed lack of memory,'' Zagel told him. He said Snyder diminished the stature of government officials by setting a terrible example and making people doubt their integrity. ''You hear over and over against that all government officials are corrupt,'' said Zagel, a one-time Illinois law enforcement director. Zagel brushed aside letters from Snyder's neighbors in downstate Pittsfield, vouching for him as someone well liked in the community. ''You should have stayed in Pittsfield,'' Zagel said. Snyder admitted that he took $30,000 from Larry Sims, a lobbyist for two vendors. He said he pocketed up to $20,000 from two other lobbyists, former Cook County undersheriff John Robinson and Michael J. Mahoney. Sims and Robinson have pleaded guilty. Mahoney was acquitted in a bench trial before Zagel who said he didn't believe Snyder's testimony. The case drew the spotlight not only because of Snyder's position but because Mahoney had lobbied the prison system while executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison reform organization. At his trial, Mahoney admitted what he had done but argued that whatever the ethical lapses, he simply had not done anything illegal. Zagel agreed, though he said the defense was ''inherently unattractive.''

July 20, 2007 Sun Times
The former director of the Illinois Department of Corrections was indicted Thursday for allegedly taking $50,000 in illegal kickbacks to hand out state contracts to favored companies, including $20,000 in bribes from the former undersheriff of Cook County. The former undersheriff, John Robinson, who left his job under a cloud, had a side job as a lobbyist for companies such as Addus Health Care of Palatine, trying to get them state business. He succeeded in getting Addus a contract providing health-care services in Illinois prisons in part because he bribed then-state Corrections Director Donald Snyder with $20,000, according to the indictment. $30,000 in alleged bribes - "Addus Health Care has not had a relationship with Robinson for several years, is not accused of any wrongdoing, didn't know the alleged activity was taking place, and is assisting authorities every step of the way," said Dave Bayless, a company spokesman. Addus is referred to as "Company A" in the indictment. Also indicted Thursday was Larry Sims, a lobbyist who allegedly gave Snyder $30,000 in bribes so state business could go to an unnamed Pennsylvania health-care company. Snyder, 52, of Downstate Pittsfield, was director of the state prisons under former Gov. George Ryan, from 1999 until 2003. Thursday's indictments grew out of the Operation Safe Road probe of corruption in the Ryan administration. Robinson, 59, of Barrington Hills, was undersheriff of Cook County from 1991 until 2000. He resigned amid a grand jury probe of him allegedly using his undersheriff stationery to solicit business for a British Virgin Islands-based company that ran an alleged investment scam. He was never charged. Robinson was undersheriff for part of the time he allegedly passed money -- in increments, totaling $20,000 -- to Snyder. 5 counts of mail fraud - "John is in a proper manner facing his charges. He will do what is right," Robinson's lawyer, George Collins, said. Robinson is currently unemployed, Collins said. Sims, 58, of Downstate Pleasant Plains, was a lobbyist for several vendors, including the Pennsylvania company. Snyder and Robinson were each charged with five counts of mail fraud. Sims was charged with one count of perjury for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the investigation. Attorneys for Snyder and Sims could not be reached for comment. [Indictment is at www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2007/pr0719_02.pdf ] [US Attorney Press Release]

October 26, 2006 Sun Times
Gov. Blagojevich remembers political insider Stuart Levine spilling a cup of coffee on him during a New York fund-raising trip that is under federal scrutiny, but insists Levine spilled nothing about any illegal scheme to trade government business for campaign cash. "That's ridiculous," Blagojevich said Wednesday. "Absolutely not. Of course not." The Democratic governor spoke for the first time in detail about the 2003 trip as supporters of his GOP rival, state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, said an itinerary shows Blagojevich illegally mixed government and political fund-raising. The itinerary lists meetings at New York's Harvard Club between Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, top Blagojevich fund-raiser Christopher G. Kelly and representatives of two companies. Those firms, Maximus Inc. and Wexford Health Sources, do millions of dollars in state business each year. Each also has contributed five-figure sums to Blagojevich. Feds probing trips: The Chicago Sun-Times last month reported that the Oct. 29, 2003, trip -- plus another to the East Coast later -- are focuses of a federal pay-to-play probe of state government. "The chief fund-raiser is meeting with people who are interested in government contracts along with a high-ranking member of the governor's staff," said Joe Birkett, DuPage County's state's attorney and GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. "You're setting the table to exchange your governmental decision-making in exchange for a political benefit." Blagojevich campaign spokesman Doug Scofield dismissed the criticism. Kelly and Tusk, he said, never met with Wexford or Maximus -- despite what the "preliminary draft" schedule indicates. "Bradley and Chris were not in any meetings together. I really have no idea why it would be that way on the schedule," Scofield said. "You have a schedule that looks like it's inaccurate in a number of ways."

August 25, 2006 The New Mexican
Santa Fe County has interviewed four people who applied to be the new jail administrator. One high-profile candidate, however, took her name out of the hat just before interviews were slated to begin Thursday. Ann Casey, a lobbyist and Illinois jail official embroiled in controversy over her relationship with state Corrections Secretary Joe Williams, had applied for the job along with five others. Casey canceled her interview Thursday and said she no longer wanted to be considered for the job, according to Assistant County Attorney Carolyn Glick. Casey was in the news in New Mexico when the state put Williams on unpaid leave and launched an investigation. Officials looked into his relationship with the woman, including use of his work cell phone and other expenses after the Albuquerque Journal reported billing records for his state cell phone showed 644 calls between the two over five months. Williams returned to work and is on probation following what a governor's aide called "a lapse in judgment." Illinois officials also looked into the matter, but Casey remains in her position of assistant warden of programs at the Centralia Correctional Center, said department spokesman Derek Schnapp. Casey was not available for comment.

May 31, 2006 New Mexican
A state prison contractor involved in the investigation of a relationship between Corrections Secretary Joe Williams and a lobbyist contributed $10,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson's re-election campaign. The political-action committee for Aramark -- a Philadelphia-based company that makes millions of dollars a year to feed New Mexico inmates -- contributed to Richardson's campaign in May 2005, according to Richardson's most recent campaign-finance report. That was about a year after Aramark renewed its contract with the state Corrections Department. Aramark also has been generous to the state Democratic Party, contributing $10,000 in 2004, and the Democratic Governors Association, which Richardson chairs. The company contributed a total of $15,000 to the DGA in 2004 and another $15,000 in 2005, according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Aramark provides food service to more than 475 correctional institutions in North America. The corporation also has food-service contracts in colleges, hospitals, convention centers and stadiums. Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley referred questions about the campaign donation to Richardson's campaign manager, Amanda Cooper, who couldn't be reached for comment. The Governor's Office announced this week that Williams is being put on administrative leave while the state Personnel Office investigates his relationship with Ann E. Casey, who registered as a lobbyist for Aramark and Wexford Health Services, which provides health care to New Mexico inmates. Casey is an assistant warden at an Illinois prison. A copyrighted story in the Albuquerque Journal said Williams' state-issued cell-phone records show 644 calls between Williams and Casey between Sept. 24, 2005, and Feb. 23. According to that report, Casey was hired as a consultant by Aramark in 2005, but that contract has since been terminated. Aramark's $5.4 million contract ends in July. The Secretary of State Office's Lobbyist Index lists Casey as a lobbyist for Wexford, though the Journal report quotes a Wexford official saying the company never hired her. In 2004, a $10,000 contribution to a Richardson political committee from Wexford's parent company caused a stir and later was returned to the Pittsburgh company. The Bantry Group made the contribution to Richardson's Moving America Forward PAC in April 2004. This was during a bidding process just a month after the Corrections Department requested proposals for a contract to provide health care and psychiatric services to inmates. That contract potentially is worth more than $100 million, The Associated Press reported. In August 2004, a Richardson spokesman said the money would be returned "to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

May 30, 2006 AP
Gov. Bill Richardson has put Corrections Secretary Joe Williams on unpaid leave while the secretary's recent actions are investigated. Richardson said the review will focus on Williams' use of a state-issued cell phone, a state-funded trip that included some personal travel and his relationship with a lobbyist. "Gov. Richardson wants a thorough investigation to examine the secretary's actions and determine if anything improper occurred," said James Jimenez, Richardson's chief of staff. "The governor sets a very high ethical standard for his administration and will not tolerate any level of abuse of authority or public trust." A spokeswoman for the Corrections Department said Williams was unavailable for comment. State Personnel Director Sandra Perez will conduct the investigation through her office, Jimenez said. Williams will be on unpaid leave until June 9, the day Perez's office is to report to the governor. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that Williams spent about 91 hours on his state-issued cell phone talking with Ann Casey, an assistant warden at a state prison in Centralia, Ill. The calls between the two phones were placed between Sept. 24, 2005, and Feb. 23, 2006. Casey registered as a lobbyist in 2005 for two companies that have contracts with New Mexico to provide health care and meals to prisoners. Williams described his relationship with Casey as a friendship and said he doesn't give preferential treatment to anybody. Richardson also is questioning a trip Williams took to Nashville on the state's dollar. In January, Williams attended a conference of the American Correctional Association. His travel records show he added a St. Louis leg to the trip, which he said was personal. A 30-mile drive from the St. Louis airport would land Williams at an address in O'Falcon, Ill., which Casey listed on lobbyist registration forms. Records show Williams wrote a check to his department in January for $266, the cost of adding the St. Louis trip. While on the trip, Williams and Casey accepted a dinner invitation from a company that operates a state prison in Santa Rosa, according to Williams' e-mail records. A billing statement for a hotel stay during the trip also lists two people in his party, but Williams would not say who the second person was. Richardson appointed Williams, a former warden at the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs and former warden at two state prisons, as corrections secretary in 2003.

November 24, 2005 State Journal Register
Less than five months after the state government canceled a contract with Wexford Health Sources to provide health care for most prison inmates, the company is resuming those duties with a new contract worth a potential $547 million. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which handles health-care procurement for most state agencies, awarded the contract late Wednesday. The agreement will pay Pittsburgh-based Wexford $97.6 million in the first year and $103.9 million in the second year, said HFS spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. Among the other bidders on the contract was Peoria-based Health Professionals Ltd., which the state hired after ending its previous contract with Wexford in July. HPL had prior agreements with the state to provide inmate health care at 10 other Illinois prisons, and those remain in effect, Strand said. The state canceled the earlier contract with Wexford just before the company's union-represented workers planned to go on strike. Workers said they authorized the strike because they were making little progress in contract talks with Wexford. The Department of Corrections awarded emergency contracts worth an estimated $55 million to HPL, and agency officials said at the time that the contracts soon would be put out for long-term bid. The emergency contracts cover the period from July 5, 2005, to Jan. 31, 2006. Wexford has contributed about $25,000 to Illinois political campaign funds since 1994, according to the State Board of Elections' Web site. The largest contribution was $10,000 to Friends of Blagojevich, the governor's fund, in November 2003.

August 27, 2005 Southern Illinoisan
In July, healthcare workers in Illinois prisons were so unhappy with Wexford Health Sources Inc., the company that employed them under contract with the state, they threatened to go on strike. Gov. Rod Blagojevich stepped in and pulled the contract from Wexford and awarded it to Health Professionals Limited. But the workers are still unhappy with Wexford, alleging the company has failed to pay them for accumulated "paid time off" including vacation and sick days. Wexford officials said it may be as late as October, but they will indeed pay what is owed pending receipt of information from HPL and money owed by the state of Illinois.

August 11, 2005 Pantagraph
In her job as a pharmacy technician at Lincoln Correctional Center, Kirsten Lolling has doled out pills and prescriptions to prison inmates for more than 12 years. On Wednesday, Lolling received some good medicine herself in the form of a 24 percent pay hike and a host of other improvements in her wage and benefits package. The added cash comes as part of a union contract ratified Wednesday by nearly 380 privately employed prison health care workers. Overall raises differ at the 23 prisons affected by the deal. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union reports its contract with Peoria-based Health Professionals Ltd. will result in better retirement benefits, cheaper health care costs and added benefits for education and length of service. Faced with the prospect of having inadequate staffing levels in many of its prisons, the Illinois Department of Corrections dropped Wexford and its $83 million contract and brought in HPL, which was already providing health care services at nine other state prisons.

July 7, 2005 Pantagraph
A Pennsylvania-based company may sue the Illinois Department of Corrections after the agency abruptly canceled its contract to avert a labor strike.  "We are looking at all our options," said Elaine Gedman, human resources chief of Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources Inc. "This is totally unprecedented."  The potential lawsuit comes in response to action the state took Sunday as the clock ticked down on a potential strike by nearly 380 nurses, pharmacists and other health-care professionals who work in the prison system but are employed through Wexford.  The workers, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, had threatened to walk off the job Tuesday if their contract demands were not met. Dozens of workers at prisons in Dwight, Pontiac and Lincoln are covered by the labor contract.  But a strike was averted late Sunday when the state terminated its lengthy relationship with Wexford -- worth about $83 million this year -- and hired a second company to manage health care at the prisons.  The affected workers, meanwhile, remain on the job while AFSCME attempts to negotiate a new labor agreement with the new contractor, Health Professionals Limited.

July 5, 2005 State Journal Register
The state has dropped its contract with Wexford Health Sources Inc. to provide health services at 23 state prisons on the eve of a scheduled strike by its employees. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dede Short confirmed that an agreement had been reached between Corrections and Health Professionals Limited to take over the Wexford contracts, which were cancelled Monday. Health Professionals Limited is a private vendor that currently provides similar health services in nine prisons, according to representatives of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represented the Wexford prison employees. As a result, the strike that had been scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. today, affecting more than 350 Wexford employees at 23 state prisons, has been put on hold, according to Anders Lindall, public affairs director for AFSCME Council 31. Negotiations broke off Friday between Wexford and the union. At the heart of the dispute is the difference in pay, health and other benefits between Wexford's employees and state workers, some of whom reportedly make twice as much as private vendor health employees doing similar jobs. Wexford's workers provided medical, dental and mental health services at nearly two dozen state prisons.  

June 26, 2005 Lincoln Courier
More than 350 health care workers at Illinois prisons, including those at Lincoln and Logan correctional centers, will go on strike July 5 if contract negotiations between their union and their employer, Wexford Health Sources, fail to produce an agreement.  
  Wexford has state contracts to provide health care at nearly two dozen correctional facilities.    The union-represented Wexford workers voted 356-5 this week to authorize a strike, said Buddy Maupin, regional director for Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.  For instance, he said, Wexford employees at state prisons are paid "vastly inferior" wages compared with state employees doing the same work.    Kirsten Lolling, a pharmacy technician at Lincoln Correctional Center, said she is paid $14 an hour, despite having 13 years of experience. State employees doing the same job are paid about twice as much, she said.    "Philosophically, we don’t think that the state should exploit its Wexford work force by using a low-wage, low-benefit vendor to save money on the labor costs," Maupin said.

June 24, 2005 Copley News Service
Frustrated by a lack of progress in contract talks, more than 350 workers who provide health care services to Illinois prison inmates have been taking strike-authorization votes, the results of which will be announced today.  A contract between AFSCME and Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Wexford Health Sources Inc. expires at midnight June 30, AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said Thursday. Wexford has state contracts to provide health-care services at most Illinois prisons. Negotiations on a new contract started in April, but they have not gone smoothly, Lindall said.  Wexford has proposed an "array of draconian takeback measures," including reductions in pay and benefits, he said.

August 18, 2003  Sun Times News
The union representing Illinois’ 15,000 state prison employees is praising Governor Blagojevich’s approval of legislation that would bar the privatization of prison commissary services.  Illinois law already prohibits the privatization of all security functions in the state prisons. AFSCME Council 31 initiated the new measure after former Governor George Ryan made an aggressive effort to contract out commissary services in the state’s 37 correctional facilities. Ryan contended that no security function was involved in the commissaries, which sell non-essential goods to inmates at reduced prices.  SB 629 makes explicit the prohibition against privatization of commissary services. It passed the General Assembly earlier this year by overwhelming majorities in both houses.

April 28, 2003 Clinton Herald
There's no money in the Illinois budget to staff and operate the Thompson prison next year but the state is exploring options for using that facility and other prisons not currently open.  One option would be to turn those facilities into federal prisons.  Doing so would require the Illinois Department of Corrections to first turn over the prisons to private companies to run, and the private companies would then lease the space to the federal prison system.

April 10, 2003  The Southern Illinois
Union picket lines could begin appearing as early as next week at eight Illinois Department of Corrections facilities because of stalled contract talks between health care workers and the private vendor that employs them.  Health care workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31 and have set Monday as a strike date, said Mark Samuels, public affairs director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the state's largest public-service employee union.  AFSCME Regional Director Buddy Maupin said Tuesday that HPL is one of three primary suppliers of health care services to the state corrections system. Wexford and Addus are the other two principal contractors. Maupin said HPL's contract proposals are not only "inferior" to wages and benefits earned by state employees in IDOC who provide the same services, but they are also below those paid by Wexford and Addus.

Maryland Department of Corrections
August 2 2013 Acc Lexology

Wexford Health Services, a company that offers medical services to prisons, lost out to its competitor Corizon, Inc. on a contract with the state of Maryland. Apparently a sore loser, Wexford retained a public relations firm to create a Web site. Wexford’s CEO and its president authored the content on the site. And that’s where the trouble began. Wexford wrote the content to make it look like a Corizon insider drafted it. The post blasted Corizon for its terrible service and its lack of concern for its customer, the state of Maryland. Corizon filed a lawsuit, alleging among other things, a violation of the federal Lanham Act. The Lanham Act prohibits false and deceptive statements in commercial advertisements. And that raised an interesting question – was the Web site a commercial advertisement? According to the court it was. Corizon had to establish three elements to make its case – the communication was an advertisement, it referred to a specific product or service and Wexford had an economic motive for posting the content. To be a commercial advertisement, the statements had to be “disseminated to the relevant purchasing public within the industry.” Wexford said it failed on that test, because less than two dozen people saw the Web site. But according to the court, the issue isn’t who sees the content, it’s the speaker’s intent. The question is whether the statements are part of an organized campaign to penetrate the relevant market. If so, element one is satisfied, even if the campaign is a dismal failure. In this case, the court found that Wexford intended wide dissemination because it posted the content on the Internet. Round one to Corizon. The court also found the content referred to a specific service – providing health care services. The fact that the statement focused on Corizon’s failings did not change the general topic, which was Corizon’s services. Round two to Corizon. As to the economic motivation, Wexford claimed there was none – it was simply trying to assist with the transition to a new provider. But the court wasn’t buying that story. In its view the circumstantial evidence – consisting of the content itself and Corizon’s status as a competitor – proved Wexford’s economic motivation. As the concept of “content marketing” becomes increasingly popular, the lines between “editorial” and “advertising” may blur. The point is, just because you call it a Web site, as opposed to an advertisement doesn’t necessarily make it so! As Abraham Lincoln said: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

January 4, 2011 Baltimore City Paper
After an unusual behind-the-scenes battle, state officials have chosen a new company to oversee medical care for Maryland prisoners. Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Green Tree, Pa., won the $312 million contract in November, but the incumbent company, Correctional Medical Services (CMS) of St. Louis, protested the contract award twice, according to a Wexford spokesperson. “We have been awarded the contract,” Wendelyn Pekich, Wexford Health Source’s director of marketing and communications, said in a phone conversation. “Unfortunately it has now been appealed twice by CMS. It’s within their rights—we understand that. It’s between them and the state.” State corrections officials and CMS spokespeople have kept mum about CMS’ multiple challenges to the contract award, neither returning reporter’s messages nor giving any comment. A Sept. 17, 2010, letter from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ (DPSCS) director of procurement services to CMS thanked the incumbent company for its bid but said it “was not selected for contract award.” The state Board of Public Works was originally scheduled to vote on the new contract on Nov. 3, 2010, but the item was withdrawn. On Dec. 1, that body, which must approve nearly all state contracts, voted without discussion to revise the existing contract for one month, at a cost of $13.9 million. Nearly $11 million of that is going to Wexford, which currently oversees “utilization management” in the system. The company acts as a check on the doctors by monitoring who gets what treatment and sometimes denying certain care. CMS’ award was $340,000. Prison health care is a controversial—and expensive—part of the Maryland DPSCS’ budget. In the 1990s, the previous provider, Prison Health Systems, had trouble with regulators. The contract was broken into five pieces—medical care, utilization management, mental health, dental, and pharmacy—in 2005. That year CMS took over the medical care component, which is the largest part of the contract, amid protest by the American Civil Liberties Union. Soon after that, state auditors found that CMS had not hired enough skilled professionals to fulfill its contract, and was actually underbilling. A 2007 state audit found “several significant areas of noncompliance,” and a state auditors’ review of those findings released in April 2010 found that there were still problems (“Prison Medical Care Has a Ways to Go,” The News Hole, citypaper.com, April 5, 2010). At that time, the whole system, serving some 23,000 inmates at a cost of about $150 million per year, had only one medical doctor. Even inmate deaths could not be properly reviewed.

Mississippi Department of Corrections
For Jamie Scott, an $11 Robbery in Mississippi May Carry a Death Sentence, By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella
December 2, 2008 Clarion Ledger
William Morris Byrd Jr. had been in and out of prison most of his life, but Charlotte Boyd, his sister, said he did not have to die there. Byrd, 53, died Nov. 21 after what Boyd described as months of wasting away at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. While the family is waiting for the autopsy, Boyd said the initial cause of death is Crohn's Disease, a chronic but treatable inflammation of the digestive path that she said had blocked her brother's esophagus. "He literally starved. We watched him turn into a skeleton," she said. Byrd was serving a lengthy sentence for rape and was not eligible for parole until 2020. Boyd realizes her brother may not be a sympathetic figure to most, but after reading a story last week in The Clarion-Ledger, she said her brother may not be alone. "If they are doing him that way, they are going to let somebody else die, too," she said. "Even a dog needs medical attention." Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said Byrd received appropriate medical care from the prison. "We provided timely, quality medical care for the inmate," he said, "as we do for all of our inmates." Mississippi's per-capita death rate for prisoners has spiked in recent years. In 2001, the state's death rate was at the national average, but in 2006 Mississippi's inmate death rate was the second highest in the nation. In 2007, inmate deaths rose again. The majority of those deaths are from natural causes, and former inmates and family members of current inmates say medical care in the state's prison system is inadequate. Epps blames the higher death rate on several factors, including an increasingly aged prison population and generally unhealthy lifestyles that have made the state a leader in medical problems like heart disease and diabetes. Epps expressed confidence in MDOC's medical contractor, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Wexford Health Sources, but the Legislative Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review last year released a report criticizing the prison system's response to chronic-care issues. PEER also found that Wexford's medical staffing was not in compliance with the terms of its contract with the state. The report found 13 percent staffing shortages at the MDOC prisons in Pearl, Parchman and Leakesville. Officials at MDOC referred questions about current Wexford staffing levels to the contractor. Wexford did not return a telephone call Monday but last week referred questions to MDOC. Senate Corrections Chairman Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, said the increase in the prisoner death rate is worth keeping an eye on, but he said Epps' explanation of the increase is plausible. It's something lawmakers would want to pay attention to and monitor, "get a little more information on," he said. "It didn't come across as there was any kind of serious problem of neglect." But the rising number of deaths worries people like Diane Rowell, whose hypoglycemic son is in South Mississippi Correctional Facility serving a short sentence for a parole violation. She said her son has lost weight and complains of being tired. "It worries me. I cry a lot about it," she said. "I know they broke the law, but they are still human beings."

November 23, 2008 Clarion Ledger
Mississippi's inmate mortality rate was second in the nation in 2006, the most recent year for which national data are available. And according to a review of state-level reports, Mississippi's mortality rate rose in 2007. It's a situation that is raising legal concerns with lawmakers and moral questions with prison-reform advocates. Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say the high rate of in-custody deaths is the result of a number of factors: aging prisoners, drug and alcohol abuse prior to incarceration and the generally unhealthy lifestyles of Mississippians. But Patti Barber, executive director of the prison-reform group Mississippi CURE, said the state does a poor job of looking after the chronic health needs of inmates. "We are getting tons of letters from inmates, for instance, who have been diagnosed with diabetes. They are not getting their (blood) sugar checked daily, as they are supposed to," she said. "Things just plain aren't getting done." That is what the Mississippi Legislature's Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review found last December when it released a report on inmate health care. The PEER report found inmates did not receive timely medical treatment from MDOC's medical contractor, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, and that Wexford did not meet medical care standards set forth under its contract with the state. In addition, the PEER committee found Wexford did not adhere to its own standards in following up on inmates with chronic health problems. Wexford, which took over inmate care in 2006, referred all questions to MDOC. Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said he is satisfied with the contractor's performance. Not maintaining suitable health care puts the state in greater legal liability, said Rep. Harvey Moss, D-Corinth, chairman of the PEER committee when the report on inmate health care was released. "We're trying to keep the inmate care up and keep the state out of trouble from a lack-of-care standpoint," he said. A search of the federal court system found more than a dozen open lawsuits filed by inmates against MDOC on medical issues. A Clarion-Ledger analysis of inmate death data found the number of prisoners dying increased in 2003 and reaching its peak last year with 78 deaths. The system is projected to lose another 64 inmates this year, based on the rate of deaths. Mississippi is second only to Tennessee in per-capita deaths among inmates, based on the latest national data. Five years earlier, the state ranked 23rd and was at the national average. "It alarms me very much," Barber said of the inmate death rate. "We have to find out where this responsibility is falling between the cracks."

January 14, 2008 Clarion Ledger
A health-care company contracting with the Mississippi Department of Corrections has been lax about providing some inmates with timely medical treatment among other problems, a legislative oversight group says. The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review also says the piecemeal contract with Wexford Health Services cost the state $1.1 million more than it would have for the same company's turnkey model. The department is facing a shortfall of more than $19 million this year, some of that for overspending in medical costs, and PEER is recommending the state auditor investigate. But Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said the only issue he's had with Wexford concerns the way the company keeps records. And, he said, PEER's findings don't take into account the savings the department has seen in medical costs throughout the years, despite the increasing number of sick and aging inmates it is holding. Some lawmakers say they're prepared to give the department a deficit appropriation. "I'm not trying to beat up on PEER," Epps told The Clarion-Ledger. "All I'm saying is if you don't deal with this stuff every day, you're not comparing apples to apples." Issued to lawmakers last month, the PEER report reviews inmate medical expenses in fiscal year 2007, which began July 1, 2006 - the same day Wexford's contract with the state began. The Pittsburgh-based company provides Corrections with only routine care, with the department handling specialty services and care for inmates referred to hospitals. A turnkey model was used previously in which another company provided services to all state institutions except the private prisons the department contracts with. Epps said the department switched from that model to keep costs down. "The medical care at the department is better than I've ever seen it, and I've been here 26 years," Epps said. But the PEER report said the current agreement is costing the department $1.1 million more than it would with Wexford's turnkey model, and the department spent $2.8 million more than its appropriation in fiscal 2007. Spending more money isn't earning the state better services either, the group says. The report indicates that during a five-month review period in the same fiscal year, Wexford was short on staff, and some employees without "proper credentials" provided medical care to inmates. Also, PEER said many sick-call requests were not sorted by priority within 24 hours after they were submitted, which could have delayed treatment. Several deficiencies with the way medical records are stored were cited in the report as well, including no separation between physical- and mental-health records, which could affect the continuum of care. "These are people who have violated laws, but we are still responsible for their care and that's just the way it is," said Max Arinder, PEER's executive director. "We need to get these things remedied, or it could lead to some legal problems."

New Mexico Department of Corrections
December 30, 2010 Albuquerque Journal
The family of an inmate who sued the state prison health services provider and three wardens claiming he failed to get treatment for colon cancer has settled the lawsuit filed on his behalf. The inmate, Michael Crespin, died in July 2008 at age 50 while the litigation was pending in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit continued with a personal representative for the man's estate. The amount of the settlement is confidential, and neither Crespin's attorneys nor Wexford Health Sources Inc., a Pittsburgh-based corporation that describes itself as "the nation's leading innovative correctional health care company," had any comment on it. A stipulated motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed with the court Nov. 29. In court documents, Wexford denied any wrongdoing, or that any actions by its employees constituted cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, as Crespin had claimed.

July 17, 2009 New Mexico Independent
A new lawsuit filed in federal court this week accuses a former corrections department contractor of medial malpractice in its care for the state’s prisoners, the Albuquerque Journal reports today. The lawsuit names Wexford Health Sources Inc., Corrections Secretary Joe Williams, medical professionals and others on behalf of a former Penitentiary of New Mexico inmate named Martin Valenzuela, 52, who now lives in Texas, the paper reports. According to the complaint, Valenzuela was serving an eight-year prison sentence at the Santa Fe prison in 2006 when he developed a urinary tract problem that led to an emergency hospital admission. The complaint describes lack of medical attention leading up to a January 2007 surgery, lack of a policy for follow-up care and the subsequent loss of medical records by the prison and the hospitals, according to the paper. This is not the only lawsuit against Wexford that alleges improper care. Others have been filed previously. Here’s an excerpt of the Journal story: Wexford is also defending against a lawsuit filed by an inmate who claimed he was essentially lost in the system for purposes of chemotherapy he needed to treat colon cancer, although he was housed within a few hundred feet of the Los Lunas prison hospital. Michael Crespin’s medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2008, but he died before his attorneys could persuade a court to order a videotaped deposition in the case. The lawsuit, now being pursued by a personal representative on behalf of Crespin’s estate, has been mired in a fight over what documents must be produced by Wexford. Lawyers for the estate are demanding documents related to financial contributions, gifts, meals, entertainment by Wexford company officers between 2001 and 2008 to Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish or any of the political action committees that might have supported them, including Si Se Puede PAC and Moving America Forward PAC. The Journal story goes on to list still other lawsuits that allege improper medical care, including one in which four women allege sexual assaults, batteries and rapes by former Correctional Medical Services employee. Another has been filed by the family of a federal detainee who died while awaiting a deportation hearing in southeastern New Mexico is alleging medical negligence. Wexford Health Sources was cited often for problems when it held the contract to provide health care in New Mexico’s prisons. It eventually lost the contract. A May 2007 audit by the Legislative Finance Committee found gaping holes in the delivery of care provided by Wexford, including too few physicians, dentists and optometrists on staff, according to two prison health experts that visited five facilities in February and March of that year. Wexford also failed to issue timely reports on 14 inmates who died at correctional facilities in 2006, the audit found. The Santa Fe Reporter, meanwhile, did extensive reporting on the health care delivered in New Mexico’s prisons and first uncovered the lapses.

July 12, 2008 Santa Fe New Mexican
Back in 2002, when Democrat Bill Richardson was running for his first term as governor, the company then known as Wackenhut, which ran two private prisons in New Mexico, donated $1,000 to his Republican opponent, John Sanchez — and nothing to Richardson. Things have changed. According to The Institute of Money in State Politics, in 2006 The GEO Group, which is the name Wackenhut now goes by, contributed $43,750 to Richardson's re-election campaign. In fact, Richardson, by a wide margin, received more money from GEO than any other politician nationwide running for state office in 2006. In contrast, Charlie Crist, governor of Florida, where GEO is headquartered, received only $1,500 from GEO. (Florida, unlike New Mexico, has campaign contribution limits.) And it dwarfs the money that the company contributed to former Gov. Gary Johnson, who first brought Wackenhut to the state. Johnson's 1998 re-election campaign received a total of $9,000 from Wackenhut and its chief executive officer, Wayne Calabrese. But that's not the last of the GEO money Richardson has received. According to the OpenSecrets.org database, which tracks contributions to federal races, the corporation's PAC donated $7,000 to Richardson's presidential campaign (which refunded $2,000 in February after his campaign folded.) Again, Richardson was GEO's favorite candidate. GEO's PAC gave only $5,000 each to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. Richardson's presidential campaign received another $9,500 from GEO executives. The only other candidate to receive any money from GEO employees is Barack Obama, who has received a total of $2,000 — all of which came only after Richardson dropped out of the race. Because New Mexico's disclosure laws don't require that campaign contributors identify the companies they work for, it's difficult to identify GEO employees who have contributed to state races. But two GEO lobbyists registered in the state contributed. Jorge Dominicis gave $2,500 to the governor's 2006 re-election, while Diane Houston contributed $5,000 to Richardson's 2006 race. And while Richardson was chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association, GEO kicked in $30,000 to that organization (though it contributed more than $90,000 to the Republican Governor's Association.) Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said last week that campaign contributions have nothing to do with GEO's presence in the state. Asked whether the governor is proud of being the top recipient of campaign funds from a private prison company, Gallegos said the question is "ludicrous and not worth addressing." Richardson is not the only New Mexico politician to get money from GEO. In fact, only one state received more GEO campaign money than New Mexico in 2006. That's the company's home state of Florida, where GEO contributed $395,925. All but about $20,000 of that went to political parties (with Republicans getting about 85 percent of the contributions). In 2006, GEO gave $66,450 to New Mexico state candidates other than Richardson. In state races, the company gave $20,000 to the Democratic primary campaign of attorney general candidate (and Richardson protégé) Geno Zamora; $10,000 to Gary King, who beat Zamora in the primary; $2,500 to King's Republican opponent, Jim Bibb; $8,000 to Lt. Gov. Diane Denish; and $2,500 to State Auditor Hector Balderas. In New Mexico federal races this year, GEO has given $2,300 to Ben Ray Luján's 3rd Congressional District race and $1,000 to 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Harry Teague. The company contributed $2,500 to Michelle Lujan Grisham's unsuccessful congressional campaign in October, but the campaign refunded the contribution in March. Grisham, a former state Health Department secretary, said last week that it wasn't GEO's prison contracts that concerned her as much as the company's $3.5 million contract to run the long-troubled Fort Bayard Medical Center, a state nursing home near Silver City. GEO terminated the contract last month. The federal government decertified the facility earlier this year after inspectors found problems with infection control, food preparation and response to reports of abuse. In 2006, GEO's PAC gave congressional candidate Patricia Madrid $10,000 and U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman $1,000. Campaign contributions aren't the only way the company has helped New Mexico politicians. In 1998, Wackenhut hired then state Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon as a "consultant." Aragon ended his Wackenhut employment after receiving intense criticism from both parties. While GEO is the private prison company that gives the most to New Mexico candidates, it's not the only one. The PAC for Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America — which runs the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility in Grants as well as county jails in Cibola and Torrance counties — gave $5,000 to Richardson's presidential campaign last September. He was the only Democrat to get money from the CCA, which also gave $5,000 each to Republicans McCain and Fred Thompson. Richardson also received $1,000 from Jimmy Turner, a CCA vice president. CCA also gave congressional candidate Ben Ray Luján $1,000 in March. In 2006, CCA gave $1,000 to Heather Wilson's 1st Congressional District campaign. In 2006, CCA gave New Mexico politicians a total of $18,700, $5,000 of which went to Richardson. Eighty percent of CCA's New Mexico contributions went to Democrats. Prison services contractors also contribute to politicians in the state. Aramark Corp., which has a contract with the state to provide food for prisons, gave $25,000 for Richardson's last race for governor and $30,000 for his running mate, Denish. Last year, the corporation gave Richardson $5,000 for his presidential race. (Aramark contributed $6,850 to Clinton.) The Bantry Group, the Pittsburgh-based parent company of Wexford Health Sources, which the state contracted to deliver prison medical services, contributed $10,000 to Richardson's gubernatorial race in 2006. Wexford Health CEO Kevin Halloran gave Richardson another $10,000 in 2005. Ironically, in 2004 Richardson returned a $10,000 donation from Bantry to his PAC, Moving America Forward, because, a spokesman said, the contribution was made while Wexford was being considered for the state contract. The contribution was returned "to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," the spokesman said. Wexford's contract was terminated in 2007 after a Legislative Finance Committee audit found serious problems with its performance delivering health care to inmates.

September 26, 2007 Santa Fe Reporter
Over the last year, whistle-blowers have come forward, auditors have released findings, legislative committees have convened. All concluded that Wexford Health Sources Inc., the private company that secured an exclusive contract in 2004 to provide health care to New Mexico inmates, cut corners at the cost of prisoners’ well being. Last year, SFR published an award-winning 15-part series focusing on health care professionals’ allegations about the care in the prisons [www.sfreporter.com; “The Wexford files.” ] Although Wexford’s contract expired on June 30, 2007, inmates are now filing handwritten civil suits leveled at Wexford, the State of New Mexico and its private-prison contractor, the GEO Group. Richard Vespender, an inmate in GEO Group’s Lea County Correctional Facility, filed suit in the First Judicial District on July 3, 2007, alleging that Wexford denied him treatment for a back injury he suffered in 2001 when he slipped on a wet floor at another prison facility. Vespender, who is representing himself, says doctors had identified two herniated discs in his lower back that required surgery, but Wexford would only pay for temporary pain-killers. On Aug, 15, former Western New Mexico Correctional Facility inmate Johnny Gallegos filed suit claiming that, in the summer of 2005, Wexford employees ignored his serious urinary condition. The suit alleges that Gallegos was treated for constipation, despite regular bowel movements and, after more than a week of complaints, was finally taken to the hospital after the prison’s warden discovered him waiting in line at the medical clinic with his shorts covered in blood. While the plaintiffs have yet to respond to Gallegos’ complaint, GEO Group and the New Mexico Department of Corrections have denied culpability in Vespender’s case, and claim, in their legal response, that they are “without sufficient knowledge or information” to either admit or deny 32 of Vespender’s allegations. Most conspicuously, the plaintiffs claim they don’t know enough about Vespender’s 2006 visits to Dr. Don Apodaca, who at the time was Wexford’s medical director at the Lea County prison. Apodaca resigned in November 2006 and previously told SFR: “It came to the point where I felt uncomfortable with the medical and legal position I was in. There were individuals who needed health care who weren’t getting it.” Although NMDOC and GEO now deny sufficient knowledge of both Apodaca’s diagnosis and that of the specialists at an Albuquerque health clinic, both were cited in an April 4, 2007 memo from NMDOC denying Vespender’s final administrative appeal, which was included in Vespender’s case file. Tia Bland, spokesperson for NMDOC, says this is a moot point: As of July 1, St. Louis, Mo.-based Correctional Medical Services began handling prison health care. “If there are inmates who felt that they were not receiving proper treatment when Wexford was there, there is a process for them to let us know about that, for them to let the current vendor know about that and we certainly will address whatever their concern is now,” she says. Solomon Brown, Gallegos’ attorney, says he’s interviewed dozens of upset New Mexico inmates, and a new vendor may not be enough. “In my estimations, there’s nothing but dissatisfaction among the inmates,” Brown says. “The governor needs to appoint a group to formally look at it, or an ombudsman to go and talk to these inmates like I do and meet with them.”

February 7, 2007 The Santa Fe Reporter
At the behest of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC), two correctional health experts have launched an extensive audit of the medical care in New Mexico’s state prisons. SFR has learned that Dr. Steve Spencer and Dr. B Jaye Anno were hired late last month by the LFC to evaluate the level of medicine provided to state inmates. Their work is part of a larger audit the Legislature is conducting of the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), slated for conclusion this spring. “We needed medical expertise in our audit, because up until now we haven’t had any,” Manu Patel, the LFC’s deputy director for audits, says. “This way, it’s not just us second-guessing the Corrections Department. We can actually get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t.” Patel says the contract with Spencer and Anno is worth approximately $21,000. The health care component to the Corrections audit follows a six-month investigation by SFR into Wexford Health Sources, the private company that administers medical care to state inmates [Cover story, Aug. 9, 2006: “Hard Cell?”]. The investigation led to a request for the audit by the state Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee last October [Outtakes, Oct. 25, 2006: “Medical Test”]. SFR’s series also compelled Gov. Bill Richardson to terminate the state’s contract with Wexford in December, a process that will likely take until June, when the prison medical contract is up for renewal [Outtakes, Dec. 13, 2006: “Wexford Under Fire”]. Regardless of Wexford’s fate, the LFC is pressing ahead with the audit. “We are looking at this serving a long-term benefit to the Corrections Department, so that we can all better evaluate the medical program in the prisons and its services,” Patel says. Spencer, a former medical director of NMCD, and Anno, who co-founded the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, started work on Feb. 5, when they traveled to Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. “We’re going to look at a number of things when we travel to the sights,” Spencer says. “We’ll look at the adequacy of staffing, the appropriateness of care, the timeliness and use of off-site specialists. We’ll review inmate deaths and whether Corrections is adequately monitoring the contractor.” Moreover, the medical audit will involve a review of the contract between Wexford and the Corrections Department, as well as sifting through tuberculosis, HIV and other medical testing data. Various medical personnel will also be interviewed throughout the process, Spencer says. Inadequate tuberculosis testing, chronic staffing shortages and a systemic failure to send inmates off-site have been among the concerns raised to SFR by former and current Wexford employees [Outtakes, Oct. 18, 2006: “Corrections Concerns”]. In an e-mail, Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman said, in part, that Wexford plans to cooperate with the audit and is confident its outcome will be positive. She also said Wexford is cooperating with NMCD for a smooth transition. NMCD spokeswoman Tia Bland tells SFR that Corrections is still working on a request for proposal, set to go out in March, that will kick off the agency’s search for a new medical provider. “We’re providing [the auditors] with whatever they need, and whatever the results are, we’ll use that information to our advantage in working with the next vendor,” Bland says. Bland reiterates NMCD’s contention that Wexford violated the terms of its contract with the state because of staffing problems. She says Corrections is still analyzing whether Wexford broke other contractual stipulations. During the mid-1990s, Spencer and Anno were hired by the Wyoming Department of Corrections to conduct medical audits of its prisons. Wexford, which administered health care for the Wyoming DOC, eventually became embroiled in a US Justice Department investigation regarding prison health care in that state and lost its contract. Recalls Anno: “There were a number of problems with Wexford’s operation in Wyoming.”

January 10, 2007 Santa Fe Reporter
For Elizabeth Ocean, the poor medical and psychological care at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility (SNMCF) in Las Cruces had become too much to bear. After three years working as a mental health counselor there, she quit her job last March. Ocean tells SFR that inmates reported waiting weeks, even months, for medical and dental appointments and to receive prescription medications. “The guys came to me constantly about the medical care,” Ocean says. “They were going and putting in requests and waiting so long to be seen. A lot of times, they were being told there was nothing wrong with them.” Wexford Health Sources, a private, Pennsylvania-based company, has handled health care in New Mexico’s state prisons since July 2004. On the heels of a six-month SFR investigative series on Wexford, in which many former and current Wexford employees came forward, Gov. Bill Richardson told the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) on Dec. 8 to replace Wexford [Outtakes, Dec. 13: “Wexford Under Fire”]. NMCD spokeswoman Tia Bland says NMCD is moving ahead with the termination process and that a request for proposals will be crafted by March. Bland says NMCD has identified at least one area—staffing shortages—in which Wexford violated the terms of its state contract. Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman did not return phone or e-mail messages. Ocean says the problems in the facility where she worked were systemic. Earlier this year, she says she wrote letters to the US Justice Department and the governor’s office, alerting them to the health care deficiencies. She also wrote of four fellow mental health counselors whom Ocean alleges were operating without state licenses; Ocean also filed a complaint last January with the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board. On May 17, Erma Sedillo, NMCD’s deputy secretary of operations, wrote Ocean on behalf of the governor’s office to inform her that NMCD was working to obtain the counselors’ temporary licenses. Sedillo did not return a phone message, but spokeswoman Bland confirms a past “licensure issue” at NMCD because the department was unaware of a recent change in existing state regulations that now require mental health professionals working in prisons to obtain a full state counseling license. “When we discovered the change, we got all of our counselors to obtain full licenses,” Bland says. As for Ocean, she is out of the prisons, but still connected. Ocean is married to an inmate and former patient at SNMCF, who is incarcerated for murder. She says their relationship started after he was no longer a patient. Ocean adds: “I saw with my own eyes all the problems, all the injustices at the prison before I ever married him.”

December 13, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
After two troubled years of administering health care in New Mexico’s prisons, Wexford Health Sources will lose its multimillion-dollar contract with the state. Wexford has been the subject of a five-month investigative series by this paper. Now, SFR has learned that on Dec. 8, Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the New Mexico Corrections Department (NCMD) to immediately begin the search for a new health care provider. “The governor has directed the Corrections Department to develop and implement immediate and long-term options for improving health care quality at the state’s correctional facilities,” Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says. “Those options are expected to include sanctions and seeking another provider—which basically means the Corrections Department will be crafting a request for proposal [RFP] to solicit a new vendor. They’re working out the terms of the RFP now and will most likely be terminating the contract with Wexford.” Wexford’s contract expires in June 2007, Gallegos says. SFR has repeatedly and exclusively published allegations by current and former Wexford employees regarding inmate care [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. Those accounts focused on dangerously low medical staffing levels at the nine correctional facilities where Wexford operates; Wexford’s refusal to grant chronically ill inmates critical, off-site specialty care; and systemic problems in administering prescription medicine to inmates. Gallegos says the governor learned about the problems with Wexford through SFR’s stories. “The governor had been concerned about the quality of care delivered in the correctional facilities and directed the Corrections Department to increase oversight of Wexford,” Gallegos says. “Corrections was doing that, but it appeared that many of those deficiencies were not being corrected.” Wexford, which also administers health care in facilities run by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), will lose those operations as well, Gallegos says. Wexford began working in New Mexico in July 2004, after signing a $27 million contract with NMCD. The Pittsburgh-based company has also lost contracts in Wyoming and Florida because of similar concerns over health care. SFR also learned this week that Dr. Phillip Breen, Wexford’s regional medical director in New Mexico, has resigned, effective Dec. 31. In addition, a dentist at a state prison in Hobbs tells SFR that facility is so understaffed that inmates sometimes wait up to six weeks to receive important dental care. Dr. Ray Puckett, who has been working as a part-time dentist at Lea County Correctional Facility (LCCF) in Hobbs for approximately one year, alleges that some inmates are suffering because the backlog to receive dental treatment is so massive. “I’ve heard about inmates pulling their own teeth after months and months. I’ve heard about inmates saying, ‘I just can’t stand it anymore,’” he says. Puckett says Wexford should have hired a full-time dentist at LCCF because so many inmates require medical attention to take care of abscesses, cavities, tooth extractions and other painful dental problems. Puckett works at the facility only one day a week, during which he typically sees up to 16 patients. He says that Wexford also has another dentist who will occasionally work one day a week at the facility. “What we have now is a poorly run operation. It’s grossly understaffed and disorganized. And it ends up being unfortunate for the inmates,” Puckett says. Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman did not respond to e-mails and phone calls from SFR. Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland says NMCD is not aware of a backlog of dental patients at LCCF, but will look into it. She adds that Wexford is only required to have a dentist at LCCF for two days a week. With regard to the governor’s action against Wexford, Bland says: “It’s a fact. Wexford has not met its contractual obligations to the Department, and that’s something we can’t ignore. We have to do something about it. We will be putting a plan in place.” In the coming year, both Wexford and NMCD are slated for an extensive audit by the Legislative Finance Committee. The audit was the result of a hearing on Wexford by the Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee in October. The hearings also were held in response to reports in this paper [Outtakes, Oct. 25: “Medical Test”]. It’s now unclear whether the audit will still take place. As for Puckett, he has considered leaving his post because of what’s happening at LCCF. A veteran of correctional health care, he also worked for Wexford’s predecessors, Addus HealthCare and Correctional Medical Services. In his estimation, both companies, which operate to make a profit like Wexford, cared more about the inmates’ physical well-being and were willing to sacrifice dollars to ensure that medical problems were treated expeditiously. Says Puckett: “It is my sense that Wexford doesn’t care what sort of facility they run. Everything is run on a bare-bones budget. They’re in it to make money.” Not anymore. When asked whether there was any chance at all that Wexford could remain in its current capacity at NMCD or CYFD, Richardson spokesman Gallegos responded: “They’re done. The governor’s intention is to replace Wexford with a new company. We expect to have a new provider in a reasonable amount of time.”

November 28, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
In the latest setback for Wexford Health Sources, a former employee has slapped the prison health care company with a civil lawsuit alleging racial discrimination. The suit, filed Oct. 25 in US District Court in Albuquerque, alleges that former health services administrator Don Douglas was fired by Wexford last October because he is black. Moreover, the suit alleges that sick and injured inmates at Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, where Douglas worked, received poor treatment and that the facility lacked critical medical staff. Wexford, which administers health care in New Mexico’s prisons, has been the subject of a four-month SFR investigation [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. As a result, the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee held a hearing last month, and the Legislative Finance Committee is slated to audit Wexford and the New Mexico Corrections Department [Outtakes, Nov. 8: “Prison Audit Ahead”]. The allegations in Douglas’ lawsuit echo many of the concerns from employees who have talked to SFR. Specifically, it charges that even though Douglas alerted a Wexford corporate administrator about medical and staffing problems, the company did not respond. Instead, according to the lawsuit, Douglas’ job was audited and he was found negligent, despite no prior problems and a record of exemplary job evaluations. On Oct. 10, 2005, Douglas was fired and replaced by a white woman, the lawsuit says. “Wexford did not provide critical health care in a timely manner, and I called attention to that,” Douglas tells SFR. “Inmates have a civil right as incarcerated American citizens to be afforded adequate health care. But that service is not being provided, and Wexford is neglecting inmates.” Douglas began working at Wexford in July 2004, but also worked for its predecessor, Addus. Shortly after his firing, Douglas filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A June 5 letter from the EEOC’s Albuquerque office says the agency found reasonable cause to believe Douglas “was terminated because of his race.” When queried by SFR, Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman wrote in a Nov. 27 e-mail that Wexford is withholding comment until the forthcoming audit is complete and referred to 14 prior successful audits of Wexford. Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland also would not comment on the lawsuit and noted that NMCD does not oversee Wexford personnel matters. Says Deshonda Charles Tackett, Douglas’ lawyer: “This is an important case. Mr. Douglas should not have to suffer racial discrimination in an effort to provide inmates with proper health care.”

November 22, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
The medical director of a state prison in Hobbs has stepped down from his post less than a month after a legislative committee requested an audit of the corrections health care in the state. Dr. Don Apodaca, medical director of Lea County Correctional Facility (LCCF), turned in his resignation on Nov. 6 due to concerns that inmates there are not receiving sufficient access to health care. According to Apodaca, sick inmates are routinely denied off-site visits to medical specialists and sometimes have to wait months to receive critical prescription drugs. Apodaca blames the policies of Wexford Health Sources, the private company that contracts with the state to provide medicine in New Mexico’s prisons, for these alleged problems. Wexford has been the subject of a four-month SFR investigation, during which a growing number of former and current employees have contended that Wexford is more concerned with saving money than providing adequate health care, and that inmates suffer as a result. On Oct. 24, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) tentatively approved an audit that will assess Wexford’s contract with the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and also evaluate the quality of health care rendered to inmates [Outtakes, Nov. 8: “Prison Audit Ahead”]. LCCF’s medical director since January 2006, Apodaca is one of the highest-ranking ex-Wexford employees to come forward thus far. His allegations of Wexford’s denials of off-site care and the delays in obtaining prescription drugs echo those raised by other former and current employees during the course of reporting for this series [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. Specifically, Apodaca says he personally evaluated inmates who needed off-site, specialty care, but that Wexford consistently denied his referrals. Apodaca cites the cases of an inmate who needed an MRI, another inmate who suffered from a hernia and a third inmate who had a cartilage tear in his knee as instances in which inmates were denied off-site care for significant periods of time against his recommendations. When inmates are actually cleared for off-site care in Albuquerque, they are transported in full shackles without access to a bathroom for the six- to seven-hour trip, Apodaca says. “Inmates told me they aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom and ended up soiling themselves,” he says. “The trip is so bad they end up refusing to go even when we get the off-site visits approved.” When it comes to prescription drugs, there also are significant delays, Apodaca says. Inmates sometimes wait weeks or even months for medicine used for heart and blood pressure conditions, even though Apodaca says he would write orders for those medicines repeatedly. “Wexford was not providing timely treatment and diagnoses of inmates,” he says. “There were tragic cases where patients slipped through the cracks, were not seen for inordinately long times and suffered serious or fatal consequences.” Apodaca says he began documenting the medical problems at the facility in March. After detailing in writing the cases of 40 to 50 patients whom he felt had not received proper clinical care, Apodaca says he alerted Dr. Phillip Breen, Wexford’s regional medical director, and Cliff Phillips, Wexford’s regional health services administrator, through memos, e-mails and phone calls. In addition, Apodaca says he alerted Wexford’s corporate office in Pittsburgh. Neither Breen nor Phillips returned phone messages left by SFR. Apodaca says he also informed Devendra Singh, NMCD’s quality assurance manager for health services. According to Apodaca, Singh assured him that he would require Wexford to look into the matter, but Apodaca says he never heard a final response. “Wexford was simply not receptive to any of the information I was sending them, and I became exasperated,” he says. “It came to the point where I felt uncomfortable with the medical and legal position I was in. There were individuals who needed health care who weren’t getting it.” Singh referred all questions to NMCD spokeswoman Tia Bland; Bland responded to SFR in a Nov. 20 e-mail: “If Don Apodaca has information involving specific incidents, we will be happy to look into the situation. Otherwise, we will wait for the LFC’s audit results, review them and take it from there.” Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman would not comment specifically on Apodaca’s allegations. In a Nov. 20 e-mail to SFR, she wrote that Wexford will cooperate with the Legislature’s audit and is confident the outcome will be similar to the 14 independent audits performed since May 2005 by national correctional organizations. “Wexford is proud of the service we have provided to the Corrections Department as documented in these independent audits and looks forward to continuing to provide high quality health care services in New Mexico,” Gedman writes. Members of the Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, which requested the forthcoming audit, toured LCCF on Oct. 19 and were told by both Wexford and NMCD officials that there were no health care problems at the facility. On the same tour, however, committee members heard firsthand accounts from inmates who complained they couldn’t get treatment when they became sick [Outtakes, Oct. 25: “Medical Test”]. That visit, along with Apodaca’s accounts, calls into question Wexford’s and NMCD’s accounts, State Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Bernalillo, says. “We were told on our tour that nothing was wrong. And now to hear that there is a claim that Wexford and the Corrections Department might have known about this makes it seem like this information was knowingly covered up,” McSorley, co-chairman of the committee, says. “We can’t trust what’s being told to us. The situation may require independent oversight far beyond what we have. This should be the biggest story in the state right now.”

November 8, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
The New Mexico State Legislature is one step closer to an audit of Wexford Health Sources, the private company that administers health care in New Mexico’s prisons. On Oct. 24, the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) tentatively approved the audit, which will evaluate Wexford’s contract with the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and also assess the quality of health care administered to inmates. The request for a review of Wexford originated with the state Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, which voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to recommend the audit after a hearing on prison health care in Hobbs [Outtakes, Oct. 25: “Medical Test”]. A subsequent Oct. 30 letter sent to the LFC by committee co-chairmen Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana, and Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Bernalillo, refers to “serious complaints raised by present and former employees” of Wexford. The letter cites this newspaper’s reportage of the situation and notes that on a recent tour of Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, “committee members heard numerous concerns from inmates about medical problems not being addressed.” It also refers to confidential statements Wexford employees provided to the committee that were then turned over to the LFC. The decision to examine Wexford and NMCD comes on the coattails of months of reports that state inmates are suffering behind bars due to inadequate medical services, documented in an ongoing, investigative series by SFR. Over the past three months, former and current employees have alleged staffing shortages as well as problems with the dispensation of prescription drugs and the amount of time sick inmates are forced to wait before receiving urgent care [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. The timing, Manu Patel, the LFC’s deputy director for audits, says, is ideal, because the LFC already planned to initiate a comprehensive audit of NMCD, the first in recent history. Regarding the medical component of the audit, Patel says: “We will be looking at how cost-effective Wexford has been. Also, we will be looking at the quality of care, how long inmates have to wait to receive care and what [Wexford’s] services are like.” Patel says the LFC plans to contract with medical professionals to help evaluate inmates’ care. As per a request from the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, current Wexford employees will be given a chance to participate in the audit anonymously. The audit’s specifics require final approval from the LFC in December; the committee will likely take up to six months to generate a report, according to Patel. In a Nov. 6 e-mail to SFR, Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman cites 14 successful, independent audits performed of Wexford in New Mexico since May 2005. “Wexford is proud of the service we have provided to the Corrections Department as documented in these independent audits and looks forward to continuing high quality health care services in New Mexico,” Gedman writes. NMCD spokeswoman Tia Bland echoes Gedman: “We welcome the audit and plan on cooperating any way we can,” she says. Meanwhile, former employees continue to come forward. Kathryn Hamilton, an ex-NMCD mental health counselor, says she worked alongside Wexford staff at the Pen for two months, shortly after the company took the reins in New Mexico in July 2004. Hamilton alleges that mentally ill inmates were cut off psychotropic medicine for cheaper, less effective drugs and that inmates waited too long to have prescriptions renewed and suffered severe behavioral withdrawals as a result. Hamilton, who had worked at the Pen since April 2002, says she encountered the same sorts of problems under Addus, Wexford’s predecessor, but quit shortly after Wexford’s takeover because the situation wasn’t improving. “They would stop meds, give inmates the wrong meds or refuse to purchase meds that were not on their formulary, even if they were prescribed by a doctor,” Hamilton says. “I felt angry, sometimes helpless, although I always tried to speak with administrators to help the inmates.” Hamilton married a state inmate by proxy last month, after continuing a correspondence with him following her tenure at the Pen. Hamilton says she did not serve as a counselor to the inmate, Anthony Hamilton, but met him after helping conduct a series of mental health evaluations. Hamilton has been a licensed master social worker under her maiden name since 2000 (according to the New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners). She emphasizes that her relationship with her husband did not begin until after she left the Corrections Department. According to Hamilton, her husband, still incarcerated at the Pen for aggravated assault, recently contracted methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a serious staph infection. In a previous story, four current Wexford employees specifically mentioned MRSA as a concern to SFR because they allege Wexford does not supply proper protective equipment for staff treating infectious diseases like MRSA [Outtakes, Oct. 18: “Corrections Concerns”]. Wexford Vice President Gedman did not address Hamilton’s claims when queried by SFR. Corrections spokeswoman Bland also says she can’t comment on Hamilton’s allegations because she had not spoken with Hamilton’s supervisor at the time of her employment. Says Hamilton: “I initially called the newspaper as the concerned wife of an inmate, not as a former therapist. With all the stories the Reporter has done, I wanted to come forward with what I had seen at the Pen.”

October 25, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
Following months of reports that state inmates are suffering behind bars due to deficient medical services, a state legislative committee has requested a special audit of health care in New Mexico’s state prisons. During an Oct. 20 hearing at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, members of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee voted unanimously to ask for the audit, which will focus on Wexford. Last week’s hearing resulted in a requested audit of New Mexico’s prison health care. (Photo by Dan Frosch.). Health Sources, the private company that contracts with the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD). The company’s operation in New Mexico has been the subject of a three-month investigative series by SFR, during which former and current Wexford employees have come forward with allegations of problematic health services for inmates [Cover Story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. As a result of the series, the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee decided to address the issue during a regularly scheduled hearing in Hobbs [Outtakes, Sept. 13: “Checkup”]. Norbert Sanchez, a nurse suspended by Wexford in September after an alleged dispute with health administrators, spoke at the hearing about problems he witnessed at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas. Sanchez recalled witnessing a wheelchair-bound inmate who sat in his own feces for hours and a sick inmate who missed critical doses of medicine for congestive heart failure. Sanchez also expressed concerns that echo those raised previously to SFR by other former and current Wexford staff: a systemic lack of medical supplies, failure to properly dole out prescription drugs and reluctance to send sick inmates off-site for specialized treatment. Though he was the only former Wexford employee in attendance, Sanchez referred legislators to a packet he’d disseminated with testimony from current Wexford employees. Those employees feared retaliation if they came forward, Sanchez said. ACLU New Mexico staff attorney George Bach testified that his organization has been hearing similar concerns from Wexford employees and that many are, indeed, afraid to go public. “These employees are so passionate about this issue that if you called them to testify, I’m certain they would do it,” Bach said. Both NMCD and Wexford refuted Sanchez’ and Bach’s allegations. Devendra Singh, NMCD’s quality assurance manager for health services, hashed through the nationally approved correctional health care standards to which he said the Corrections Department adheres. He also pointed to the strict auditing process he said NMCD uses to monitor Wexford. “We go for auditing for every inch of every aspect of care,” Singh said. Wexford President and CEO Mark Hale said his Pennsylvania-based company is subject to more stringent oversight in New Mexico than in any other state where it operates. “If inmates need health care, they get it,” Hale, who categorized the attacks on Wexford as deriving from disgruntled ex-employees, said. But Singh’s and Hale’s assurances were not enough for the legislators on hand, who peppered the two with questions. At one point, State Rep. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, referred to a recent SFR story in which a current Wexford employee at Central decried treatment of inmates as inhumane and noted that never before had the employee seen such deficiencies in health care [Outtakes, Oct. 18: “Corrections Concerns”]. “That’s pretty darn scary to me,” Wirth said of the allegation. Committee co-chairman and State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana, questioned Singh’s assertion that medical complaints from inmates are rare and noted that on a tour of Lea County Correctional Facility the previous night, legislators had heard numerous inmate concerns about medical problems. Co-chairman Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Bernalillo, said on the same tour he’d seen an inmate suffering from a visible cystic infection. The cyst should have easily been identified through only a “cursory” medical evaluation, McSorley said. Corrections Secretary Joe Williams said his agency welcomes a special audit of health care in the prisons. Legislators agreed that such an audit, under the aegis of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC), should be conducted by an independent third party and include accounts from current Wexford employees who could remain anonymous. LFC Chairman Lucky Varela, D-Santa Fe, says he has not yet received an official request from the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, but will be keeping an eye out. “We will seriously consider looking at the Corrections component to see what type of health care and what type of contracts are being approved by the Corrections Department,” Varela says. Indeed, for Peter Wirth, the logical next step is an audit that examines Wexford’s services and NMCD’s oversight and that allows current employees to speak freely. Says Wirth: “We really need to hear more from these folks. Obviously, we’ve begun a dialogue here, and we don’t want to short-change it.”

October 18, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
Current prison health workers say they fear retaliation if they speak out. Just days before state legislators convene a hearing on correctional health care in New Mexico, a group of medical employees in the state prison system have come to SFR with allegations about how inmates are treated. All four requested anonymity because they say they fear retaliation from Wexford Health Sources—the private company that administers health care in the prisons—if their identities are revealed. The employees currently work at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility. They allege, among other things, that chronically ill inmates are forced to lie in their own feces for hours, are taken off vital medicine to save money and often wait months before receiving treatment for urgent medical conditions. Moreover, the employees say conditions at the facility are unsanitary. “In my entire career, I’ve never seen this sort of stuff happening,” one employee says. “These inmates are not being treated humanely. They don’t live in sanitary conditions. They live in pain.” Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman denies all the employees’ allegations in an e-mail response to SFR. Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland says the department is unaware of these allegations and that “none of these issues have surfaced during our regular auditing process.” The employees’ allegations come on the heels of a series of stories by SFR, in which several former Wexford employees have publicly come forward with similar charges [Cover Story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. As a result of the stories, the state Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee will hold a hearing on Oct. 20 in Hobbs to discuss the matter [Outtakes, Sept. 13: “Checkup”]. Wexford and the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), which oversees the Pennsylvania-based company, have categorically denied charges that inmates are being denied proper health care. These latest allegations are the first to come from current employees of Wexford. The employees describe an environment where medical staff must purchase their own wipes for incontinent patients because they say Wexford administrators say there’s no money for supplies. They say there’s a shortage of oxygen tanks and nebulizer machines (for asthma patients) and also scant protective equipment for those staff treating infectious diseases. Gedman says, “Wexford is unaware of any shortage in medical supplies. Extra oxygen bottles and nebulizers are always on hand and ready for any emergency use. The oxygen bottles are inventoried daily as part of our emergency response requirement.” The employees also allege that chronically ill inmates sometimes wait what they say is too long to be taken off-site for specialty care. Gedman says this also is false and that Wexford “strongly encourages all of our providers to refer patients for necessary evaluation and treatment, off-site when necessary, as soon as problems are identified that need specialty referral.” All four employees say their complaints to Wexford administrators about the lack of supplies and treatment of inmates have been ignored, and all believe coming forward publicly will cost them their jobs. Gedman says this concern is unfounded because “Wexford encourages an open-door policy for all employees to bring issues to the attention of management so that they can be investigated and acted upon as appropriate.” Bland says Corrections staff are “visible and accessible in the prisons. If any of Wexford’s staff would like to speak with us concerning these allegations, we welcome the information and will certainly look into the matter.” As for the legislative hearing, State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, R-Doña Ana, co-chairman of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, says he hopes some of these Wexford critics will show up in Hobbs. And he says further hearings are a possibility. “I hope there is a full airing of the issues. I would like to learn that the Corrections Department is working to resolve all of this, but if they haven’t, I expect to make deadlines for them so we can expect adequate progress,” Cervantes says. “We’d still like to protect the anonymity and bring to light any allegations and complaints.” Cervantes also says he wants to introduce legislation during the next session to protect whistle-blowers. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group in Florida, says the Legislature must do everything it can to safeguard current Wexford employees against retaliation. “The Legislature is the ultimate authority, and they need to put pressure on the Corrections Department to find out what the hell is going on. They also need to protect these employees so they can come forward and testify about their specific experiences,” Kopczynski says. “And if there are allegations of civil rights abuse, which is what it sounds like, then the Justice Department needs to come in.”

September 13, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
Concerns about prison health care reported exclusively by the Santa Fe Reporter will be discussed by a legislative committee next month. The Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee will gather in Hobbs on Oct. 19 and 20 for a regularly scheduled hearing and discuss, among other items, the health care provided to state inmates by Wexford Health Sources. Wexford, a private, Pennsylvania-based company, has come under fire from ex-employees who allege that inmates receive dangerously substandard health care [Cover Story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana, co-chairman of the committee, says those concerns prompted the Legislature to take action. “The issues [SFR] has raised have not come before our committee recently. Inevitably, you get a perception that the management wants you to see, but we want to go beyond that,” Cervantes says. Cervantes expects representatives from Wexford and the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) to answer questions at the meetings. He also encouraged all those who have concerns about Wexford’s health care in the prisons to come forward. “We need these individuals to not only participate in the public portion of the meetings but consider presenting evidence and testimony to the committee,” Cervantes says. State Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Bernalillo, co-chairman of the committee, echoes his counterpart’s sentiment. “With the increasing outcry of health care in the prisons, Joe and I decided this was an issue that needs to be discussed,” McSorley says. Meanwhile, SFR recently obtained an Aug. 29 memo from Wexford that directs staff not to speak with this paper. The memo is from J Chavez, identified as director of nursing at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas. “It is important that you either contact the Pittsburgh office or myself if this reporter contacts you,” the memo states. “Please keep in mind that all of you have read and signed the business code of conduct…” The memo also cites the company’s media relations policy, which prohibits employees from speaking with the news media on matters relating to Wexford.

August 30, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
A Santa Fe dentist and his assistant say they quit their jobs at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in 2004 because of concerns that state inmates were not receiving adequate dental care. Dr. Norton Bicoll and Sharon Daily left their employment at Wexford Health Sources, which handles health care in nine New Mexico correctional facilities, because the company ordered them to cut their hours for inmates in half, they say. Bicoll and Daily’s problems with Wexford follow a number of serious allegations levied by six ex-Wexford employees that also question the level of health care inmates are receiving [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. Last week, SFR also reported that two Albuquerque psychiatrists have sued Lovelace Health Systems for firing them after they refused to participate in a proposed contract with Wexford. The contract would have called for the psychiatrists to provide substandard treatment to state inmates, the lawsuit alleges [Outtakes, Aug. 23: “Unhealthy Proposal”]. These latest assertions about Wexford appear to be part of a growing chorus of criticism of the company and its treatment of inmates. Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman, who has responded previously to questions regarding the company, did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. But Bicoll and Daily’s issues with Wexford relate to the company’s staffing shortages in New Mexico, one of the company’s most pervasive problems, according to ex-employees. While both NMCD and Wexford have consistently played down such shortages, according to Wexford’s own Web site, there are currently 47 vacancies for medical personnel in New Mexico. That number comprises close to half of the 117 total positions Wexford, the nation’s third largest private correctional health care company, is currently advertising for. Such vacancies not only include a range of nursing positions but also critical, high ranking administrative posts. According to the Web site, Wexford is looking to hire a director of nursing and medical director at the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility in Grants. The medical director position is also open at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces and Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. The Penitentiary of New Mexico needs a director of nursing. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group in Florida, says charges of compromised prison health care in New Mexico warrant federal involvement. “It would be good to get the Department of Justice involved if there are allegations of lack of care on behalf of the inmates,” he says. “The New Mexico Corrections Department and the Legislature can’t hide their heads in the sand and say they didn’t know about these problems if there’s ever a lawsuit. The inmates are ultimately the responsibility of the state, and you can’t contract that away.”

August 25, 2006 The New Mexican
Santa Fe County has interviewed four people who applied to be the new jail administrator. One high-profile candidate, however, took her name out of the hat just before interviews were slated to begin Thursday. Ann Casey, a lobbyist and Illinois jail official embroiled in controversy over her relationship with state Corrections Secretary Joe Williams, had applied for the job along with five others. Casey canceled her interview Thursday and said she no longer wanted to be considered for the job, according to Assistant County Attorney Carolyn Glick. Casey was in the news in New Mexico when the state put Williams on unpaid leave and launched an investigation. Officials looked into his relationship with the woman, including use of his work cell phone and other expenses after the Albuquerque Journal reported billing records for his state cell phone showed 644 calls between the two over five months. Williams returned to work and is on probation following what a governor's aide called "a lapse in judgment." Illinois officials also looked into the matter, but Casey remains in her position of assistant warden of programs at the Centralia Correctional Center, said department spokesman Derek Schnapp. Casey was not available for comment.

August 14, 2006 In These Times
While New Mexico’s landscape may make the state the Land of Enchantment, its rapidly growing rates of incarceration have been utterly disenchanting. What’s worse, New Mexico is at the top of the nation’s list for privatizing prisons; nearly one-half of the state’s prisons and jails are run by corporations. Supposedly, states turn to private companies to cope better with chronic overcrowding and for low-cost management. However, a closer look suggests a different rationale. A recent report from the Montana-based Institute on Money in State Politics reveals that during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, private prison companies, directors, executives and lobbyists gave $3.3 million to candidates and state political parties across 44 states. According to Edwin Bender, executive director of the Institute on Money in State Politics, private prison companies strongly favor giving to states with the toughest sentencing laws—in essence, the ones that are more likely to come up with the bodies to fill prison beds. Those states, adds Bender, are also the ones most likely to have passed “three-strikes” laws. Those laws, first passed by Washington state voters in 1993 and then California voters in 1994, quickly swept the nation. They were largely based on “cookie-cutter legislation” pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), some of whose members come from the ranks of private prison companies. Florida leads the pack in terms of private prison dollars, with its candidates and political parties receiving almost 20 percent of their total contributions from private prison companies and their affiliates. Florida already has five privately owned and operated prisons, with a sixth on the way. It’s also privatized the bulk of its juvenile detention system. Texas and New Jersey are close behind. But in Florida, some of the influence peddling finally seems to be backfiring. Florida State Corrections Secretary James McDonough alarmed private prison companies with a comment during an Aug. 2 morning call-in radio show. “I actually think the state is better at running the prisons,” McDonough told an interviewer. His comments followed an internal audit last year by the state’s Department of Management Services, which demonstrated that Florida overpaid private prison operators by $1.3 million. Things may no longer be quite as sunny as they once were in Florida for the likes of Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the former Wackenhut, now known as the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla. But with a little bit of spiel-tinkering—and a shift of attention to other states—the prison privatizers are likely to keep going. The key shift, Bender explains, is that “the prison industry has gone from a we-can-save-you-money pitch to an economic-development model pitch.” In other words, says Bender, “you need [their] prisons for jobs.” If political donations are any measure, economically challenged and poverty-stricken states like New Mexico are a great target. In this campaign cycle, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson has already received more contributions from a private prison company than any other politician campaigning for state office in the United States. The Institute of Money in State Politics, which traced the donations, reported that GEO has contributed $42,750 to Richardson since 2005—and another $8,000 to his running mate, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Another $30,000 went from GEO to the Richardson-headed Democratic Governors Association this past March. Richardson’s PAC, Moving America Forward, was another prominent recipient of GEO donations. Now, its former head, prominent state capitol lobbyist Joe Velasquez, is a registered lobbyist for GEO Care Inc., a healthcare subsidiary that runs a hospital in New Mexico. But don’t get the idea that GEO has any particular love for Democrats: $95,000 from the corporation went to the Republican Governors Association last year alone. What companies like GEO do love are the millions of dollars rolling in from lucrative New Mexico contracts to run the Lea County Correctional Facility (operating budget: $25 million/year), and the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility ($13 million/year), among others. CCA also owns and operates the state’s only women’s facility in Grants ($11 million per year). To make sure that those dollars keep flowing, GEO and CCA have perfected the art of the “very tight revolving door,” says Bender, which involves snapping up former corrections administrators, PAC lobbyists and state officials to serve as consultants to private prison companies. In fact, the current New Mexico Corrections Department Secretary Joe Williams was once on GEO’s payroll as their warden of the Lea County Correctional Facility. Earlier this year, Williams was placed on unpaid administrative leave after accusations surfaced that he spent state travel and phone funds to pursue a very close relationship with Ann Casey. Casey is a registered lobbyist in New Mexico for Wexford Health Sources, which provides health care for prisoners at Grants, and Aramark, which provides most of the state’s inmate meals. In her non-lobbying hours, it turns out that Casey is also an assistant warden at a state prison in Centralia, Ill. It appears that even for a prison industry enchanted by public-private partnership, Williams and Casey may have gone too far.

May 31, 2006 New Mexican
A state prison contractor involved in the investigation of a relationship between Corrections Secretary Joe Williams and a lobbyist contributed $10,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson's re-election campaign. The political-action committee for Aramark -- a Philadelphia-based company that makes millions of dollars a year to feed New Mexico inmates -- contributed to Richardson's campaign in May 2005, according to Richardson's most recent campaign-finance report. That was about a year after Aramark renewed its contract with the state Corrections Department. Aramark also has been generous to the state Democratic Party, contributing $10,000 in 2004, and the Democratic Governors Association, which Richardson chairs. The company contributed a total of $15,000 to the DGA in 2004 and another $15,000 in 2005, according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Aramark provides food service to more than 475 correctional institutions in North America. The corporation also has food-service contracts in colleges, hospitals, convention centers and stadiums. Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley referred questions about the campaign donation to Richardson's campaign manager, Amanda Cooper, who couldn't be reached for comment. The Governor's Office announced this week that Williams is being put on administrative leave while the state Personnel Office investigates his relationship with Ann E. Casey, who registered as a lobbyist for Aramark and Wexford Health Services, which provides health care to New Mexico inmates. Casey is an assistant warden at an Illinois prison. A copyrighted story in the Albuquerque Journal said Williams' state-issued cell-phone records show 644 calls between Williams and Casey between Sept. 24, 2005, and Feb. 23. According to that report, Casey was hired as a consultant by Aramark in 2005, but that contract has since been terminated. Aramark's $5.4 million contract ends in July. The Secretary of State Office's Lobbyist Index lists Casey as a lobbyist for Wexford, though the Journal report quotes a Wexford official saying the company never hired her. In 2004, a $10,000 contribution to a Richardson political committee from Wexford's parent company caused a stir and later was returned to the Pittsburgh company. The Bantry Group made the contribution to Richardson's Moving America Forward PAC in April 2004. This was during a bidding process just a month after the Corrections Department requested proposals for a contract to provide health care and psychiatric services to inmates. That contract potentially is worth more than $100 million, The Associated Press reported. In August 2004, a Richardson spokesman said the money would be returned "to avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

May 30, 2006 AP
Gov. Bill Richardson has put Corrections Secretary Joe Williams on unpaid leave while the secretary's recent actions are investigated. Richardson said the review will focus on Williams' use of a state-issued cell phone, a state-funded trip that included some personal travel and his relationship with a lobbyist. "Gov. Richardson wants a thorough investigation to examine the secretary's actions and determine if anything improper occurred," said James Jimenez, Richardson's chief of staff. "The governor sets a very high ethical standard for his administration and will not tolerate any level of abuse of authority or public trust." A spokeswoman for the Corrections Department said Williams was unavailable for comment. State Personnel Director Sandra Perez will conduct the investigation through her office, Jimenez said. Williams will be on unpaid leave until June 9, the day Perez's office is to report to the governor. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that Williams spent about 91 hours on his state-issued cell phone talking with Ann Casey, an assistant warden at a state prison in Centralia, Ill. The calls between the two phones were placed between Sept. 24, 2005, and Feb. 23, 2006. Casey registered as a lobbyist in 2005 for two companies that have contracts with New Mexico to provide health care and meals to prisoners. Williams described his relationship with Casey as a friendship and said he doesn't give preferential treatment to anybody. Richardson also is questioning a trip Williams took to Nashville on the state's dollar. In January, Williams attended a conference of the American Correctional Association. His travel records show he added a St. Louis leg to the trip, which he said was personal. A 30-mile drive from the St. Louis airport would land Williams at an address in O'Falcon, Ill., which Casey listed on lobbyist registration forms. Records show Williams wrote a check to his department in January for $266, the cost of adding the St. Louis trip. While on the trip, Williams and Casey accepted a dinner invitation from a company that operates a state prison in Santa Rosa, according to Williams' e-mail records. A billing statement for a hotel stay during the trip also lists two people in his party, but Williams would not say who the second person was. Richardson appointed Williams, a former warden at the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs and former warden at two state prisons, as corrections secretary in 2003.

Oaks Correctional Facility, Eastlake, Michigan
December 1, 2004 Lundington Daily News
A former Oaks Correctional Facility physician pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion with a total tax liability of $139,794. Dr. Daniel Smalley, 56, formerly of Wellston now of Ludington, is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 2005 at the Lansing Federal Building. On June 28, 2004, Smalley was arrested at the Baltimore Washington International Airport, in Baltimore, Maryland, after returning from Ghana, West Africa. According to a complaint filed in June 2004, during the years 1997 through 2002, Smalley was employed at both the Baraga Correctional Facility, Baraga, and at the Oaks Correctional Facility, Eastlake, working for several different companies, including Genesys Integrated Group, Wexford Health Services, the State of Michigan, and Correctional Medical Services. In 1996 and 1997, Smalley provided Genesys with what U.S. attorneys are calling a false W-4 form, claiming to be exempt from all federal income taxes. In 2002, the IRS submitted a notice of levy to Correctional Medical Services to collect taxes due and owing from his wages. Each count of conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
March 22, 2013 therepublic.com

ERIE, Pennsylvania — A woman is suing the health services provider at a western Pennsylvania county prison claiming a doctor and other medical staff didn't properly respond to her complaints of pain and bleeding after she fought with another inmate while pregnant, resulting in her son being stillborn. Officials with Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment after hours Friday on the lawsuit filed by Tiffany Pollitt and Brian Camp Sr. of Erie. The couple alleges their son, Brian Jr., was stillborn in August 2009, several days after Pollitt says she was hit in the abdomen by another inmate while she was nearly eight months pregnant at the Westmoreland County Prison. The lockup about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh and it employees are not named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Erie.

August 18, 2007 Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison’s medical director was fired from a similar post at a Pittsburgh-based health care services company in 1999 in an apparent dispute over a new treatment for hepatitis C in state prisons the company served. Company officials could not be reached to explain his termination, but in a lawsuit later filed against the company, Dr. Edward J. Zaloga claimed he was fired because he disagreed with a plan to begin treating the liver disease with a then-new, unproven drug that ultimately would be a waste of taxpayer money. The treatment “would waste more than $7 million of the (state) taxpayers’ money on unnecessary and unwarranted medical treatment,” he charged in a suit filed against Wexford Health Sources Inc. in November 1999. He claimed in his suit that his management practices had created a profit for the company of $4.1 million, and the company — which at the time was trying to get the state to pay for the new treatment — feared it might have to pay for treating inmates if the state found out about its profits. He was fired for raising the concerns, he alleged. The suit demanded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, expenses, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages. The company, in its legal responses, denied earning anywhere near $4 million. It denied his other claims as well. County judges rejected Dr. Zaloga’s suit in separate rulings in 2002 and 2004 with one judge writing that Dr. Zaloga failed to establish “a report of wrongdoing ... or waste.” Wexford in its legal filings acknowledged firing Dr. Zaloga but did not say why. Dr. Zaloga is now co-owner of a company, Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, that provides medical services to county prison inmates, and oversees those services. A former inmate, Shakira Staten, 22, a federal prisoner who gave birth at the prison July 10 and has since been transferred to Adams County Prison to await sentencing, has sued him, the company and the prison in federal court. She claims she was a victim of cruel and unusual punishment because her pleas to be taken to the hospital when she went into labor were ignored and she had the baby alone in a cell. The county Prison Board this week apologized for the way she treated and blamed a Correctional Care nurse for “serious errors of judgment” that included failing to properly monitor her labor and unnecessarily delaying taking her to the hospital. The board barred the nurse from working in the prison. A secretary in the company’s office said Dr. Zaloga was not available for comment and would only reply to written questions. A secretary at Wexford Health Sources said no company officials would be available to comment until next week. Dr. Zaloga was Wexford’s regional medical director for its central Pennsylvania operations from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29, 1999, the day the company’s operations director dismissed him, according to court records.

State Correctional Institution, Muncy, Pennsylvania
May 12, 2005 Wilkes Barre Times Herald
The family of a Wilkes-Barre woman who suffered a fatal asthma attack while in prison will receive $2.15 million in a settlement of a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections and a health care provider. Erin Finley, 26, died on Aug. 29, 2002 after medical personnel at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy ignored her repeated pleas for help, according to a federal lawsuit filed by her mother, Christine Thomas of Wilkes-Barre. Evidence uncovered by Thomas’ attorney, Dan Brier of Scranton, showed Finley desperately sought medical care for severe asthma she had had since she was a child, but she was repeatedly rejected based on a prison doctor’s belief that she was “faking” her symptoms.
The federal suit, filed in June 2003, alleged employees of SCI Muncy and its health care provider, Wexford Heath Sources Inc., showed a “callous and deliberate” indifference for Finley. Finley continued to have problems breathing and on July 27 wrote another request, asking a different physician to see her “as soon as possible.” “My asthma is so bad and Dr. Bardell says I am faking it. I don’t know what else to do,” the request stated. On the morning of her death, Finley phoned her mother in a hysterical state, saying she could not breathe. At around noon she was directed to go to the infirmary, where a physician’s assistant examined her. The assistant told Bardell that Finley needed to go to the hospital, but he refused to see her and left the prison at 2:40 p.m. Twenty minutes later, Finley lost consciousness and stopped breathing. She was transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:11 p.m.

St. Clair County Jail, St. Clair, Illinois
October 20, 2005 St. Clair Record
A St. Clair County Jail inmate charged with first degree murder is seeking $1 million in a lawsuit claiming he was denied proper medication. In a federal court suit filed Oct. 18 against the county and Wexford Health Sources, Darron Perkins claims his civil rights were violated and his mental stability has been detrimentally affected. Perkins, a disabled Vietnam veteran, claims he was given a greater dose of medication by a nurse making rounds in the jail approximately two months ago. He consumed all the medication that had been prescribed to him by a psychiatrist, but the nurse accused him of giving pills to another inmate.

Wexford Health Services Inc.
Arizona prisons in health-care quandary: February 16, 2012, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on for-profit health providers

August 18, 2007 Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison’s medical director was fired from a similar post at a Pittsburgh-based health care services company in 1999 in an apparent dispute over a new treatment for hepatitis C in state prisons the company served. Company officials could not be reached to explain his termination, but in a lawsuit later filed against the company, Dr. Edward J. Zaloga claimed he was fired because he disagreed with a plan to begin treating the liver disease with a then-new, unproven drug that ultimately would be a waste of taxpayer money. The treatment “would waste more than $7 million of the (state) taxpayers’ money on unnecessary and unwarranted medical treatment,” he charged in a suit filed against Wexford Health Sources Inc. in November 1999. He claimed in his suit that his management practices had created a profit for the company of $4.1 million, and the company — which at the time was trying to get the state to pay for the new treatment — feared it might have to pay for treating inmates if the state found out about its profits. He was fired for raising the concerns, he alleged. The suit demanded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, expenses, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages. The company, in its legal responses, denied earning anywhere near $4 million. It denied his other claims as well. County judges rejected Dr. Zaloga’s suit in separate rulings in 2002 and 2004 with one judge writing that Dr. Zaloga failed to establish “a report of wrongdoing ... or waste.” Wexford in its legal filings acknowledged firing Dr. Zaloga but did not say why. Dr. Zaloga is now co-owner of a company, Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, that provides medical services to county prison inmates, and oversees those services. A former inmate, Shakira Staten, 22, a federal prisoner who gave birth at the prison July 10 and has since been transferred to Adams County Prison to await sentencing, has sued him, the company and the prison in federal court. She claims she was a victim of cruel and unusual punishment because her pleas to be taken to the hospital when she went into labor were ignored and she had the baby alone in a cell. The county Prison Board this week apologized for the way she treated and blamed a Correctional Care nurse for “serious errors of judgment” that included failing to properly monitor her labor and unnecessarily delaying taking her to the hospital. The board barred the nurse from working in the prison. A secretary in the company’s office said Dr. Zaloga was not available for comment and would only reply to written questions. A secretary at Wexford Health Sources said no company officials would be available to comment until next week. Dr. Zaloga was Wexford’s regional medical director for its central Pennsylvania operations from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29, 1999, the day the company’s operations director dismissed him, according to court records.

June 10, 2003
The company that provides health care to inmates in Pennsylvania's 26 state prisons will terminate its contract with the state, citing cost overruns.  The state's $493 million contract with Wexford Health Services Inc. was to run through October 2007.  The company cited soaring pharmaceutical costs and an unexpected increase in the number of state inmates for the decision.  Wexford, in a January letter, told the state Department of Corrections that it planned to end the contract in September.  (AP)

Wyoming Department of Corrections
September 19, 2005 Star-Tribune
Wyoming Department of Corrections officials hope a new $10 million-a-year contract with Prison Health Services will save them some health care costs in the long run. Unlike the department's previous contract with Correctional Medical Services, the new private health care provider will be an umbrella entity responsible for all medical, dental and health services and other programs for the state's four penal institutions. Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., will subcontract for some of these services and also assumes 100 percent of the risk with no caps on catastrophic claims. PHS, like CMS and another predecessor, Wexford, has its critics. The May 2005 issue of Prison Legal News said PHS has been the target of lawsuits over inmate health care in New York, New Jersey, Nevada and Florida. Linda Burt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Wyoming, said the volume of health care complaints from inmates has remained the same from Wexford through CMS and now to PHS. "It's still one of our big concerns," Burt said. She said she looks carefully at all private prison providers. "Nothing has ever shown me that private providers in the prison system work well. It doesn't matter whether they are private providers of the entire prison or just health care," she said. She noted that both Wexford and PHS also were sued.
"I think the solution is an in-house solution," she added. "If you're working for profit in that kind of system, you can't provide the appropriate care and be a for-profit system. I think it's almost impossible to do that."