Florida Dept. Of Corrections Targets Problems With Inmate Health Care

September 29, 2014

Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is threatening to stop payments to a Missouri-based company that won a five-year, $1.2 billion contract to provide health care to the majority of the state’s prisoners, accusing Corizon of failing to provide adequate treatment. Corizon provides medical care for inmates in North and Central Florida, including prisons in Century and Santa Rosa County.

Crews sent a letter to Corizon CEO Woodrow Meyers on Friday saying that the company has failed to follow through after audits revealed shortcomings in multiple areas, including medical care, nursing and administration.

“All too often, we are finding that these corrective action plans are not being carried out and that the level of care continues to fall below the contractually required standard,” Crews wrote. “As of this date, many of the most critical expectations including complete and full staffing, responding to DOC concerns and reducing the number of grievance(s) are often not being met.”

Crews said he has had concerns about the contract since the privatization effort was launched in September 2013.

“When we met in person on December 18, 2013, I expressed concern about issues that appeared to be developing during the first two months of our partnership. At that time, we specifically discussed patient care issues, utilization management, and communication. All three of these areas continue to be cause for concern,” he wrote Friday.

The secretary threatened to withhold payments at any institution that fails to meet 80 percent of auditing standards and keep the hold in place until applicable standards for care are met. Crews also warned that he would remove prisons from Corizon’s contract if the institutions fail consecutive audits or have “exceptionally high levels of non-compliance.”

Corizon started providing inmate medical care last year after a long-running legal dispute over a decision by state lawmakers in 2011 to approve prison health privatization in budget fine print, known as “proviso” language. Wexford Health Sources is being paid $240 million over five years to provide health services to nine prisons in South Florida.

Both companies have come under fire for deficient care to prisoners in Florida and other states. Disability Rights Florida sued Crews and Wexford Health Systems earlier this month, alleging that torture and abuse of prisoners had been ignored for years.

Jonathan Plotnick, an inmate at Lake Correctional Institution, recently sued Crews and Corizon because health care workers at the prison refused to allow Plotnick to see a surgeon about a hernia operation even though they were aware that extreme pain prevented him from functioning normally. During a hearing in federal court earlier this month, Corizon officials agreed to allow Plotnick to consult with a surgeon, and he has since had the procedure. Plotnick’s lawyer Randall Berg said he knows of 10 other inmates who were also refused the surgery.

The struggle over the privatized health care is the latest woe for the embattled prisons agency, which houses more than 100,000 inmates. State and federal officials are investigating inmate deaths and corruption at a number of Florida prisons, including Franklin Correctional Institution, where inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo was gassed to death in 2010.

Crews has been on a crusade to purge the department of corrupt and abusive guards since The Miami Herald reported earlier this year about mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey, who died at Dade Correctional Institution after guards allegedly forced him to shower in scalding hot water as punishment two years ago.

In the past two months, Crews has fired 45 guards for a variety of reasons, including for having a role in the deaths or beatings of inmates.

Four investigators sued the department earlier this year after Gov. Rick Scott’s inspector general refused to grant them whistleblower protection. The investigators were concerned about retaliation after exposing Jordan-Aparo’s death. The investigators accused Scott’s chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel of ignoring complaints about the inmate’s gassing.

And the department is grappling with a growing gang population, often aided by rogue guards. Two former Taylor Correctional Institution sergeants are awaiting trial after being accused earlier this year of ordering an inmate to be killed to protect the guards’ role as kingpins of an institution-wide gang operation.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Pictured: Inmate medical facilities inside the Century Correctional Institution. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.


26 Responses to “Florida Dept. Of Corrections Targets Problems With Inmate Health Care”

  1. Patricia Oliver on August 21st, 2017 12:49 pm

    Personally, I think that all prisoners should receive BASIC medical care, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not the Hyatt Regency after all, and nobody’s fault but their own as to why they’re incarcerated!

  2. Carol Gay Reed on May 22nd, 2016 9:58 pm

    I used to be a nurse for FDOC (at NWFRC) I worked for 23 1/2 years before being forced to retire due to COrizon taking over – I was not offered a job at another state facility (ie Dept. of health) to do 1 1/2 years so I could draw full retirement. I was also repremanded when I got my letter stating I was beign terminated and Corizon was taking over – I emailed the governor’s office (from his “email the governor” link on the state website) And expressed my opinion that privitazion was a wrong move. I was repremanded and told I was nto allowed to contact the governor’s office with my concerns while a state employee… guess my right to freedom of speech was taken away when DOC hired me …

  3. Concerned on October 16th, 2014 9:50 am

    Some of these problems were in existence within the Florida Dept. of Corrections prior to Corizon coming on board. For years, I have heard inmates say they would rather die than go back to a specific medical center. There, the treatment is hit or miss, the professional medical staff is rude and the officers are downright abusive. I’m sure staff at other facilities have heard the same thing. To place all the blame on Corizon is not going to fix the root problem. Have inmates suffered more since Corizon took contract? Maybe. That remains to be seen. Will getting rid of Corizon magically solve the issue? Hardly.

  4. Jackson on October 14th, 2014 10:10 am

    Let’s not forget…the non-medical professionals at all these sites are mostly the dedicated past employees of FDOC who had no other choice, in many cases, to stay and be “absorbed” in Corizon’s world. They are victims as well; abiding by Corizon rules, regulations, massive daily, weekly and monthly reports that take a mass amount of the non-medical professional Supervisor’s time and energy. The non-medical supervisors log hours and hours and hours of weekly overtime with no extra pay; they are salary. If Corizon gives you a “final notice”, that’s it, no other previous notice or chance, you are doomed to be fired, after you had been with FDOC for many, many years as a FAITHFUL employee. Many of these former FDOC employees HAD to give up all the investing in their retirements they had been doing for years as a FDOC employee. When money is the object of the Governor’s desires then nothing else is considered!

  5. Jennell Bates on October 14th, 2014 8:23 am

    Kudos to Secretary Crews! Some institutions have been without physicians and dentists for months. When DOC was over health services, every institution had a full time psychologist on staff daily. Most facilities now only have a psychologist one day per week. There’s no way these institutions can meet standards not having adequate staffing. One dentist is also not adequate for 2300 inmates. Dental services is provided by the same contractor that lost their contract a few years ago, Smallwood. Corizin has requested additional funding from the Governor more than once and received it. It’s time this company either provided adequate staffing immediately or lose the contract. In North Florida, several administrators and director of nurses have resigned due to this organizations demands on them which is unreasonable with their staffing. Enough is enough!

  6. Native on October 5th, 2014 3:44 pm

    Please just let the State of Florida manage inmates medical and mental health care one again. Using inmates as cash cows by a for profit company is a dangerous formula to cut corners and unethically let people die. Anyone in the medical and mental health profession is torn by their conscious to do no harm. No wonder so professionals are leaving the prison. God sees it all. Do the right thing and give it back. It is the ethical thing to do and will result in less law suits all the way around.

  7. David Huie Green on October 3rd, 2014 5:33 am

    “The company‚Äôs decisions are driven by the dollar bill, not client care. State employees were told staffing patterns would remain the same. BUT, Staffing was cut in half at some camps, leaving those who remained overworked and challenged for being incompetent. Corizon has justified these inadequate staffing patterns, but the standard of care is not being met, resulting in failed audits”

    If money is the motivator, use money to get results. Be sure the contract spells out the level of care expected and don’t pay for less. Make sure failure to meet contractual care levels is also criminal in law rather than just in culture.

    If they don’t do their job, let the CEO and others get on the other side of the question in prison themselves.

    David for justice so others can see what it looks like

  8. katherine on October 2nd, 2014 8:53 am

    Thank you Mr. Crews. I am very thankful for you. I hope and pray you will be able to help all inmates. The pain and suffering is too great.

  9. Sassy on October 1st, 2014 9:06 am

    I agree (100%) with Hank! We can thank Rick Scott for awarding Corizon the contract. It’s a known fact that many of these companies have horrible reputations for not caring (medical, mental health, etc.) for the inmates and in some cases allowing their health to deteriorate to the point where some of them die. MSNBC did a piece on these type of companies and their “main goal” is to make MONEY!

  10. Gloria Bishop on September 30th, 2014 6:17 pm

    About Corizon :My son had colon cancer surgery. He has been denied to see an oncologist. He has a very large and bad hernia which caused him excruciating pain. To no avail. Someone in Tallahassee has to approve for him to see a surgeon or an oncologist. Thus far no one has approved There is always a reason and his requests had always been denied even when the “doctor ” gives approval. At this point we do not know if his cancer is active or not. They consider a hernia non life threatening.I have called numerous times medical records. They have to go by the rules.
    One inmate died about a month ago. He was in the dorm where my son is. No excuse for his death. was it too late for him to be seen by a doctor or sent to a hospital?. I learned of a death of another inmate today. killed? sick, tortured?? There are no excuses for this. I understand that there is retaliation if someone speaks. Someone needs to care

  11. Just saying on September 30th, 2014 11:37 am

    Yes, their food is cooked for them…by inmates. Yes, their laundry is done for them…by inmates. Every single prisoner, unless he or she is disabled or medically exempt, is required to work at some task, either on the prison ground or off it, such as road work. They do not just sit around and watch television.
    Health care is necessary and vital to maintaining morale, which makes it easier on both the inmate AND the corrections officers. Mental health services are as important as air and food when in this situation. It protects prisoners and guards alike from the dangers of mental illness. Without proper medication, there would be some very dangerous scenarios playing out every single day.
    No, prison isn’t supposed to be easy, but your life isn’t supposed to be endangered everyday either. Without proper and timely healthcare, the lives of prisoners and correctional officers would be in constant danger.
    And, yes, veterans should receive much better healthcare, too. The country should be ashamed of the way we have turned out backs on those who have fought to protect us and our country.

  12. concerned on September 30th, 2014 8:28 am

    The prisons are over crowded, why cann’t some of that money be spent to mandatory educate and council the people before sending to prison. I realize some do not want help. But some would take the opportunity. Give them more gain time for learning a trade. How many prisons have classes for prisoner’s to use when they get out?

  13. isabel on September 30th, 2014 7:53 am

    Forget moral compasses and what inmates should or should not deserve. The problem lies with the horrific understaffing provided by Corizon. The company’s decisions are driven by the dollar bill, not client care. State employees were told staffing patterns would remain the same. BUT, Staffing was cut in half at some camps, leaving those who remained overworked and challenged for being incompetent. Corizon has justified these inadequate staffing patterns, but the standard of care is not being met, resulting in failed audits. One psychiatrist cannot take care of the issues of 3000 inmates, but Corizon believes that to be a satisfactory “standard of care.” They are not a healthcare organization – they found a place to make money in a environment most people don’t care about.

  14. DOC Officer on September 29th, 2014 9:49 pm

    There are definitely some Officers who go too far, but the problem really lies with the state. Inmates are coddled way too much and staff gets treated like crap. We are underpaid and overworked, and the inmates get treated way too nicely. If we want to save tax money, take out the televisions and all the other luxuries within the prison. Inmates get television, free electricity, free water and sewage, laundry is done for them (and folded nicely), the food is made for them three times a day, they do not have to work for anything, they get recess twice a day (rec yard), and we as Officers have to be nice to them. Where is the punishment? There is no incentive for them not to return once released. The fact is, most of the inmates have it better in prison than they do on the streets. I am not for beating inmates or torturing them, but we need to be harsher on them and make it to where they do not want to return back. The inmates mean more to the state than the Officers who risk there lives to ensure the safety of the public, staff, and the inmates.

  15. Good4Crews on September 29th, 2014 9:40 pm

    I am glad that the failure of Corizons to meet the needs of the DOC has been noticed. Yes, there are some nurses that that should not be employeed anywhere and is amazing they are still allowed to practice that being said, There are some very good PROFESSIONAL nurses that work for the DOC, and this is not the only job they can get they choose this feild to work. Actually it is not all that easy to be hired to work with in the locked gates you must go through a lot before you can work for DOC most of your so called professionals can not even pass the back round check to make it to training. Yes Corizon may have raised the pay, but the nurses had not had raises in over 6 years they were not even keeping up the cost of living. But they paid for it through other things like not having enough staff working alone in a prison with 1400 inmates and they are the only medical person on the compound not to mention the added hours they are asked to work because there are not enough nurses to cover the shifts.

  16. Cartman on September 29th, 2014 9:17 pm

    Let’s make the victims of the crimes from these convicted felons feel even better by taking prison and making it a Spa. It’s prison your a criminal and it’s not supposed to be a happy friendly place it’s supposed to detur people from committing crimes. The convicts have television three meals a day special religious meals someone washes there clothes the get mental health doctors dental and vision health care. The convicts get treated better than veterans do. Stop crying over a few complaints let’s cry for the victims of theses convicted criminals.

  17. Mark T on September 29th, 2014 8:20 pm

    Come on people , let’s privatize everything.. Sheriffs dept. and everything else we can put in private hands !! That’s the way we can save a few tax dollars! Come on now vote Republican !!!!!!

  18. Lynne on September 29th, 2014 5:42 pm

    The DOC is over crowded. That’s the main problem. The other problem is no one is strong enough to address the issue because of being viewed as soft on crime. It’s not about that it’s about justice. Our laws are far reaching our sentencing guidelines are severe and the mandatory 85% rule leaves the prisons so over crowded. Florida leaders needs to address the issue and the public needs to open their eyes many of tax dollars are paying for this and it appears to corrupt. It’s the governors job and the attorney generals job. They should not be silent on this issue

  19. anna on September 29th, 2014 5:09 pm

    Thankfully Mr. Crews is cleaning out the DOC.
    It has been a corrupt system in this sate for years..
    way to go Mr. Crews!!

  20. anne on September 29th, 2014 10:04 am

    If the medical systems weren’t corrupt, we wouldn’t see them preying on us from every angle they can find. Prisoners cannot just walk out the door on these schemes. Mr Crews is the best hope these prisoners have for decent treatment.

  21. Kathi Iannone on September 29th, 2014 9:43 am

    This is great! I hope Mike Crews continues to looking to all the wrong doing at these facilities by ROGUE guards.
    Mr. Crews please talk to the inmates and start at NWFRC! I know that some will use it to their advantage but there are some serious issues at the hands of guards that need to be resolved.
    There are some guards that do their job and Thank goodness for them but those that are on the Authority Power Trip. It would be very satisfying if rogue guards were to suffer the same treatment that they put the inmates through, but I guess two wrongs don’t make it right! I can only hope for them to be caught, fired and prosecuted.

  22. Hank on September 29th, 2014 9:35 am

    You can thank Rick Scott for Corizon. He pushed hard to award this billion dollar contract to a company with a shady past. Corizon has a horrible reputation for mistreating inmates and a horrible reputation for gross negligence. The way they treat and care for these inmates is inhumane. And as it turns out these private companies have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to elected officials including over $100,000 to Rick Scott’s campaign.

  23. marcos on September 29th, 2014 8:54 am

    Let’s make it more comfy in jails and prisons. They deserve the great healthcare. In fact, let’s mandate their victims to cone volunteer for them and do inmate laundry and make inmate food.

    Here’s a great idea: Mandate their victims pay money to inmate commissary!

  24. Mark T on September 29th, 2014 7:05 am

    These are some of the problems that is a result of the scam called privatization..

  25. My2Cents on September 29th, 2014 6:37 am

    KUDOS to Mr. Crews! It appears that someone finally cares enough to do something about the issues that have been a concern for many. Just because some inmates are in prison doesn’t make them any different from the rest of us. The only difference is their choices in life. It’s sad to hear about the treatment they receive from medical and other correctional staff members.

    I have and had some family members in prison because of their actions, and have some that work in the prison system. So I know what it’s like to be on both ends. I hope in due time Mr. Crews continues to clean up the system and makes the changes that need to be made.

  26. Donut on September 29th, 2014 6:19 am

    It seems like Crews is on a headhunting mission, but that’s what the Florida DOC apparently needs. The Alabama DOC needs someone with half the backbone that this guy has. Corizon apparently hires people who cannot work elsewhere. The staff are not what one would expect for “medical professionals.” So, take someone of that caliber that’s hanging onto a nursing license and pay them extremely well…it’s an instant train wreck.

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