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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Medical Claims and Malpractice at West Texas Immigrant Prison

Part II PNA's Medical Gulag
Physicians Network Association (PNA), a Lubbock-based company that calls itself a leader in correctional healthcare,” has subcontracted with Reeves County since 2002.
As the owner of the prison, Reeves County has a contract with the Bureau of Prisons to hold fedeal immigrant prisoners. But rather than run the facility itself, the county subcontracts its responsibilities to GEO Group to operate and manage the prison and to PNA to provide medical and dental care. (See Medical Claims Part I)
In its presentation as part of the negotiations over its current contract with the county, PNA assured the county that “as a subcontractor, PNA has fourteen years’ experience assisting operators exceed expectations.”
PNA included GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation (MTC) among its references, and it told the county: “PNA has never had a contract canceled or been removed from a facility.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that long-running complaints about medical cars abuses sparked the inmate protests at the Reeves County Detention Center. Six years ago the Justice Department found widespread medical abuses at another county-owned, privately run adult detention center, where the same subcontractor, Physicians Network Association, was also the the medical services provider.
Concerned about civil rights violations at the detention center, the Justice Department sent a study team from its Civil Rights division to investigate the jail in May 2002 to determine if there were violations that could be prosecuted under the Civil Rights of Instiutionalized Persons Act (1997).
On March 6, 2003 the Justice Department sent a letter and a long report of its findings to Santa Fe County, which owned the jail and contracted with Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a private prison firm, to operate the jail.
Summarizing its findings, the Justice Department stated:
“We find that persons confined suffer harm or the risk of serious harm from deficiencies in the facility’s provision of medical and mental health care, suicide prevention, protection of inmates from harm, fire safety, and sanitation.”
In its report, the Justice Department team specified 52 actions that were needed “to rectify the identified deficiencies and to protect the constitutional rights of the facility’s inmates to bring the jail into compliance with civil rights standards. Thirty-eight of the 52 identified deficiencies related to medical services. The Justice Department report concluded:

“The Detention Center, through PNA, provides inadequate medical services in the following areas: intake, screening, and referral; acute care; emergent care; chronic and prenatal care; and medication administration and management. As a result, inmates at the Detention Center with serious medical needs are at risk for harm.”

(Read entire report on PNA’s Medical Gulag at: http://sites.google.com/site/transborderproject/medical-claims-and-malpractice-at-west-texas-immigrant-prison )

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