In a motion for a competency hearing filed on Friday, January 18, 2022, three days before disgraced former Norfolk, Virginia, sheriff Bob McCabe is scheduled to be sentenced in a pay-to-play bribery and corruption scandal involving health care at the city jail, attorneys for the disgraced former sheriff claim that his mental health has deteriorated significantly since his conviction the previous August.
As a result of the legal ploy, the 63-year-old will most likely not be sentenced before his 13-year-long plan partner, Gerard Francis “Jerry” Boyle, at which point he might receive up to 20 years behind bars. Boyle, 66, the former CEO of Correct Care Solutions (CCS), the jail’s longtime health care contractor, is scheduled to be sentenced in late February 2022 to up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in October 2021 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud by paying bribes for the jail’s $3.2 million annual health care contract.
Healthcare in prison is a hustle
The case highlights the possibility of corruption in the provision of medical treatment in jails and prisons, which is one of their most significant budget items. As reported by the Urban Institute in 2013, between nine to thirty percent of “corrections costs” can be attributed to prisoner medical treatment.
In order to decrease such expenses, government authorities have increasingly relied on commercial suppliers for assistance and support. However, the trail of corruption, death, and misery that has been left in its wake proves that hiring for-profit corporations to provide medical care to inmates is not the solution to the problem.
One of the businesses was run by Jerry Boyle. He began his prison career as a guard at the Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts, where he progressed through the ranks to become the facility’s superintendent over a 15-year stint that spanned the late 1980s and 1990s. There, he had a glimpse of the future, in which privatization would prove to be his golden ticket to success. He then founded Prison Health Services, which subsequently evolved into Corizon Health, to serve prisoners.
Boyle founded his second firm, CCS, in 2003, after selling his previous one. Clients began to flock to him, and his success caught the attention of private equity groups on the lookout for enterprises from which they could extract savings in order to generate a rapid profit. Boyle persuaded two companies, Audax Group and GTCR, to buy CCS, putting himself in charge of the company. In October 2018, after purchasing CCS from Miami-based HIG Capital, the company merged with Correctional Medical Group (formerly known as Correctional Physicians Medical Group), which HIG Capital had purchased in 2012, to form a new company, Wellpath Holdings, LLC. The company was formerly known as Correctional Medical Group.
Wellpath, with approximately $1.6 billion in yearly sales, has surpassed all other providers of medical services to people who find themselves in the terrible position of being imprisoned in America’s modern-day gulags, according to the company. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the firm is responsible for the treatment of almost 300,000 inmates in nearly 40 states and Australia, with its headquarters in Nashville. According to its website, it has “over 35 years of experience providing high-quality medical and behavioral care to often overlooked populations in difficult clinical environments.” However, it was formed as a result of the merging of two businesses that had a history of maximizing profits while delivering subpar or inadequate treatment.
As late as May 2019, Wellpath referred to Boyle as a “visionary” founder on its website, stating that the company had “adopted his management philosophy as our company’s values,” according to the company. That assertion is critical to recall as we examine the fruit that has resulted from that attitude in the context of delivering healthcare in jails and prisons.
A corrupt Sheriff for human livestock
The majority of government contracts are awarded through a competitive bidding procedure that begins with a Request for Proposals (RFP). In order to ensure that one bidder has an unfair advantage over another while submitting sealed bids to deliver the services listed in the RFP, the process is expected to be kept confidential. However, as is frequently stated, it is not so much about what you know as it is about who you know.
Boyle was charged with providing Sheriff McCabe with cash, travel, a loan, entertainment, gift cards, personal gifts, sports tickets, and campaign contributions between 2004 and 2016, according to a federal indictment issued in October 2019 that detailed the charges to which Boyle later pleaded guilty. In exchange, McCabe gave CCS/Wellpath assistance with contract extensions and renewals, as well as insider bidding information, for the provision of health services at the Norfolk City Jail, which was thereafter awarded to Wellpath.
“As a client, I feel respected, and this distinguishes CCS from [its] rivals,”McCabe – Testimonial quotation for one offer submitted by Boyle.
Because of Boyle’s conviction, Wellpath rapidly distanced itself from him, claiming that he had no day-to-day role in the firm while serving as Chairman of its Board of Directors at the time of the indictment. But his connections assisted the firm in obtaining contracts in Massachusetts, including those in Worcester and Essex counties, as well as a deal with his previous employer, Bridgewater State Hospital, among other things.
Earlier this year, a Wellpath representative stated, “The charges against Mr. Boyle are serious, and we have accepted his resignation from all positions with our company.”
McCabe entered his guilty plea barely six weeks after a jury found him guilty of 11 charges of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering in a separate trial. In Boyle’s instance, amended information formed a picture of his true ideals and business philosophy, which were as follows:
In order to keep McCabe pleased and to assure favorable handling of CCS’s medical contract, Boyle was well aware that he would have to deliver things of value, such as campaign contributions and in-kind political donations, at various points throughout the conspiracy.
Greasing the Gears – It get’s worse
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, CCS/Wellpath has given around $41,000 to at least six candidates for sheriff in the state of Virginia since the beginning of 2008. (VPAP). Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman has taken $13,370 in contributions from the company since he began his second term in 2016, accounting for more than 8.5 percent of the total amount collected by his campaign on his path to earning a third term that began in January 2020.
On June 26, 2017, the county’s Board of Supervisors accepted a contract renewal with CCS/Wellpath for a total of $4.7 million over two years, putting him in the middle of his second term. Authorities of the county claim that the procedure was flawless and that Chapman was not engaged in it in any way.
In her statement, Cheryl Middleton, a purchasing agent for the county’s Division of Procurement, said, “I am confident that the contract with [CCS] was the result of a fully fair and impartial process as required by the Virginia Public Procurement Act and was not a ‘pay for play’ arrangement as suggested.”
While accepting donations from CCS/Wellpath, Chapman’s opponent in the 2019 election, Justin Hannah, stated that accepting money from the organization was “ethically questionable.”
It raises issues about whether the sheriff is prioritizing his election over the safety of the community and the health of people detained in the jail when he accepts political contributions in the thousands of dollars from the corporation that provides medical services to the jail, Hannah said.
“This is so widespread and so common [that] it has become the status quo,” expressed Max Rose, executive director of Sheriffs for Trusting Communities, who expressed disappointment. “The fact is that it shouldn’t be. You have no reason to assume that the sheriffs are doing anything other than surrendering to the interests of the funders until the sheriffs’ campaigns are run free of that money.”
Money Is the only thing that matters
Everyone is aware that healthcare bills may be quite expensive. Unpaid medical debt accounts for around 18 percent of all outstanding debt in the United States, making it the biggest category of debt now in collections. Local, state and federal government bodies operate on a fixed budget each year, thus they strive to lock in pricing for the provision of healthcare to detainees and convicts in detention facilities. Private corporations enable them to do so through contracts that pay a per diem fee for basic healthcare and specialty treatment, such as operations conducted outside of the hospital, as well as for prescription drugs. The per diem arrangement generates a significant amount of financial incentive.
In the event that they do not deliver any services, Yolanda Huang, a human rights attorney and member of the National Lawyers Guild, pointed out that they are entitled to keep all of the money they have received. In order to avoid providing anything above and above, or extra, they have every reason not to do so.
She stated that some inmates have indicated that CCS/Wellpath staff have even inquired as to when they were scheduled to be released since:
“[i]f they have a medical problem and are released, then the financial responsibility falls on the shoulders of someone else.”
As an associate director of nursing for CCS from 2013 to 2014 before being fired less than a year later, Crystal Tucker witnessed firsthand how the company’s business model involved postponing treatment until the inmate was transferred to another jail or released from prison.
According to her, “So [that] inmate and [his] problems would then be their problem, or they would have it delayed until the inmate was about to be released so that he would be released and would have to deal with it on his own.” “That way, they were able to keep the cost below the amount allotted in the budget, and all of the bigwigs and fat cats who were involved with that contract received bonuses.”
It was very evident in 2015 that Collin County, Texas, intended to spend less money on health care at its jail. In response to a CCS questionnaire, officials said that they wanted “good options for keeping the inmates on site rather than having them go to the hospital.” The county even stated that it “would like to minimize the amount of transportation away from the site.” Its “Cost Containment Program,” which included a commitment to minimize prisoner transfers by 27 percent, saving the county $140,000 per year, was promoted as a complete solution to that problem.
Those savings would be realized by “optimizing the delivery of medical care onsite,” according to CCS, which also stated that its policy would be to transport imprisoned people to a hospital only in the case of a medical emergency, which it defined as an incident involving a “life or limb threatening illness or injury,” among other things.
Worcester County authorities in Massachusetts were likewise tempted by CCS’s incentives and signed contracts with the corporation as a result of their efforts. After receiving a promise in 2015 that off-site medical expenses at the jail would not exceed $500,000 per year, the county implemented the promise. The corporation would share the savings with both the sheriff’s office and the county if expenditures were less than that.
“We sincerely believe that as your partner, we should have ‘skin in the game,’” the proposal declared.
According to Superintendent David Tuttle, spending were so close to the cap in 2016 and 2017 that savings for the Worcester County jail amounted to only $51,000 in both years. The county subsequently backed out of the agreement to share cost savings in its most recent contract out of concern that it would create a negative impression.
In light of the privatization of medical treatment for the imprisoned, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the general public to believe that administrators and bureaucrats are being held accountable for the health and safety of detainees, convicts, and employees.
“It does create this perverse incentive to scrimp on care because for every lab test not run or a specialist visit not done, that’s just additional profit that the company can pocket,”said Corene Kendrick, a staff attorney with the Prison Law Office in California.
It is not my intention to imply that government-run or self-operated jail healthcare is excellent; rather, when government entities are responsible for delivering the service, there is no commercial motivation to cut shortcuts, and there is greater control.
That confluence of profit and prison health care was the subject of a June 2019 investigation by CNN, which examined complaints at nearly 120 locations in 32 states and found that CCS/Wellpath “provided substandard care due to its focus on containing costs, leading to numerous deaths and other serious outcomes that could have been avoided with more staffing, better training, and more experienced employees.”
“[CCS/Wellpath] employees have denied urgent emergency room transfers,” CNN found. “They have failed to spot or treat serious psychiatric disorders and have allowed common infections and conditions to become fatal.”
Lauren Kent’s horror story
“We always put our patients first and focus on high-quality care to an often-overlooked population,” insists the Wellpath website. “We believe in transforming public health by delivering hope and healing to those who need it most.”
Lauren Kent, on the other hand, is of the opposite opinion. The Texas lady was arrested on May 29, 2019, and placed into the Collin County Jail on a charge of credit card fraud. She was four months pregnant at the time of the incident. She anticipated spending a few weeks in jail and then having to deal with the ramifications of the legal system. Kent had no clue that one of the ramifications of her actions would be the loss of her unborn child.
When she complained to Wellpath staff about her cramps and vaginal bleeding on June 27, 2019, they agreed to help her. Using a computer kiosk, she submitted requests for medical attention. Her symptoms are often a warning sign that the expectant mother is suffering troubles and that the child’s life is in danger of being taken away. They were following Wellpath’s Cost Containment Program, which has no compassion for patients who do not satisfy the program’s definition of what constitutes a threat to life or limb, as evidenced by their actions.
Instead, they pointed out that Wellpath needed Kent to wet two period pads with blood within 24 hours in order to access off-site medical treatment, which they considered excessive. Kent stated in a July 1, 2019, request for medical attention that she had not felt her baby move in 24 hours and that she had passed a blood clot when going to the toilet, among other things. She received a message stating that she may pay $10 and get access to sick call.
On July 3, 2019, Kent had a visit with nurse Jelil Atiba. Atiba stated that Kent was still not bleeding to the point where he needed to be sent to the hospital. Kent had to soak two additional pads “within the next 30 minutes,” according to a message from nurse Julia McBride, in order to obtain the attention she required. Additionally, she stated that she could hear Kent shouting and weeping inside of her cell.
“Per assessment, your issue is more behavioral than medical,” “Thank you very much and God bless you; we are here to serve you.McBride wrote in her message to Kent.
According to a staff member who wrote in a report that Kent had not felt her baby move in between 24 and 36 hours, “Nurse Jelil cut Kent’s explanation off with a raised voice,” Kent said. ‘Nurse Jelil informed Kent that she would be sent to the main jail if her behavior persisted, and that she would never be allowed to return to minimal security. Nurse Jelil also told her that [only] medical staff would determine if Kent went to the hospital.”
Following her encounter with Atiba, Kent sent a frantic message to Atiba, saying:
“PLEASE I’M BEGGING YOU… “. I NEED A DOCTOR.”Lauren Kent’s pleas for help
She then phoned the woman who was assisting her with the adoption of her child, and that woman immediately called the prison. Upon hearing this, a lieutenant informed her that “you can’t believe everything that [inmates] tell you.” But as a result of the call, Kent was given an assessment and placed in a medical cell, with instructions to keep count of the menstrual pads she bled through.
Kent was seen by another nurse on July 4, 2019, when she was taking a urine sample. According to a complaint Kent subsequently filed, she then diagnosed Kent with a urinary tract infection and informed her that if she was miscarrying, “there was no magic pill she could give her to stop the process or reverse it.”
Kent went into labor the following day, despite his repeated pleas for assistance. The nurses did not take her word for it. Kent called the on-call nurse, Michelle Pounders, after weeping for six to eight hours on the phone. Michelle was able to put Kent at ease.
She replied in a severe manner, ordering Kent not to be returned to minimal security.
During the process of packing her belongings in preparation for a transfer to another cell with high security, Kent was jolted back to her cell, where she delivered her stillborn baby over the toilet seat.
“It happened very quickly, in that last moment it came out. “It was a very bloody situation,” Kent recalls. “And the nurse that had been saying, ‘you’re crying wolf,’ when she came in and saw it, she dropped to her knees and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’”
Kent had finally gotten some expressions of sympathy, but they were fleeting. Her request to hold her dead son was rejected, and the child, whom she called Dakota, was placed in a red plastic biohazard bag after being placed in the red bag.
“The fact that this is happening in America, where counties are pinching pennies and being more cost conscious than care conscious is really disturbing,” said attorney Scott Palmer, who cited in the lawsuit he filed for Kent six other cases involving women who were forced to give birth in their cells at jails under contract with CCS/Wellpath. “The fact that this is happening in America, where counties are pinching pennies and being more cost conscious than care conscious is really disturbing,” said attorney Scott Palmer. See: Kent v. Collin County, USDC (E.D.Tex.), Case No. 4:21-cv-00412-SDJ.
Double down on doubt, and death
The attitude displayed by the guard lieutenant in Kent’s case is typical of many who work in correctional facilities.
According to Andrew Harris, professor of criminology and justice studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, “there is a baked-in cynicism about what inmates say and what they complain about.” “It’s just a part of the culture of the correctional system.” The risk is that you assume that everybody is lying to you.”
Nurse Claire Teske acknowledges that it is easy for nurses who work in jails and prisons to become jaded about their jobs. She cautioned nurses that they must seek for a “differential diagnosis” in order to avoid making errors.
“You’ve got to figure out what’s not wrong [to] narrow down what is wrong,” she said.
In jails and prisons, it is normal for an imprisoned individual to send a sick call slip in order to seek medical attention while in custody. In most cases, the slips must be examined within 24 hours after being received. Ziggy Lemanski, a prisoner at the Worcester County Prison in Massachusetts, filed multiple slips in February 2008 requesting medical attention for flu-like symptoms he was experiencing. Because of his HIV and hepatitis C infection, Lemanski’s immune system was severely damaged, and he struggled to get out of bed and coughed up blood.
As he stated on one of his sick call slips, “I’ve been in bed since Saturday.” In addition to coughing up dark phlegm and [having diarrhea], I’ve been feeling weak and have chills.
As of February 29, 2008, when Lemanski was eventually transferred to the jail’s infirmary for treatment, he was dehydrated, his heart was racing fast, and his oxygen level was dangerously low. CCS staff were ultimately satisfied that Lemanski’s life was in danger as a result of this, and he was sent to the hospital. On the same night, a nurse made a note in Lemanski’s cell saying she had administered his HIV medicine. But it was impossible, of course, because he was in the hospital, dying, at the time of the incident.
Later, Mario Lemanski said doctors apologized to him because by the time his brother arrived at the hospital, “his lungs were so congested they wouldn’t even show up on an x-ray.”
Ziggy Lemanski, 44, died of pneumonia a few days after being admitted to the hospital.
According to reports, the county resolved a lawsuit brought by his brother in 2014 for $62,500 dollars. See: Lemanski v. Commonwealth, Mass. Super. (Worcester Co.), Case No. 11-0342.
No medical care resulting in death
The official cause of death for Michael Ramey, a Worcester County inmate who died of natural causes, is reported as “natural causes” by the county jail. That would be correct if meningitis were a naturally occurring disease that could not be treated. Fortunately, it is a condition that can be managed.
Ramey, 36, was arrested and placed into prison in July 2016 on suspicion of robbery. Within a few days, he began to experience headaches and fatigue. Over the course of the following month, his speech became slurred, and he began to feel paralysis on his left side. As the virus raged in his brain, he futilely begged for assistance from CCS personnel at the jail. On August 13, 2016, he was finally admitted to a medical facility.
An atypical migraine was identified by a doctor, who advised him to consult a neurologist within a week after being diagnosed. Ramey was returned to his cell, and the meeting with the doctor was never scheduled. He had his first fall 10 days after visiting the doctor, and it would be the first of many. Ramey was exhibiting “apparent medication-seeking behavior,” according to a nurse’s note. As a result of a body-strength test, the nurse concluded that Ramey did not appear to be exerting his maximum force. A CCS doctor also noted that Ramey was exhibiting “medical-seeking behavior” the following day after he had fallen again.
On August 30, 2016, Ramey went to the doctor and complained of headaches, left-side soreness, and dizziness, according to medical documents. On September 7, 2016, a nurse came into his cell and discovered him lying on the floor, unable to move to the door as she had expected. She wrote in his medical file that:
“He was repeatedly shouting, ‘What[?] I can’t hear you. I can’t hear or see anything . . . I need help, something is wrong.’”
A regular test revealed that Ramey had cryptococcal meningitis, and he was admitted back to the hospital for further treatment. On September 16, 2016, he passed away.
“Even though this kid is screaming that he had a neurological condition that’s raging, everybody writes it off,”said Hector Pineiro, the attorney for Ramey’s estate.
There has been no announcement of a settlement in the lawsuit he filed on their behalf. See: Arria v. Correct Care Solutions, Mass. Super. (Suffolk Co.), Case No. 1984-cv-02843.
More Wrongful Death Lawsuits are being filed
However, despite the fact that individuals like Ramey are suffering and dying in an unnecessary manner, Wellpath maintains that it is striving to enhance public health.
A pillar of Wellpath’s purpose is to deliver high-quality treatment to every patient in a compassionate manner, and the company maintains a culture that encourages doing the right thing for patients, employees, and business partners, according to the company’s president, Kip Hallman.
On February 3, 2022, Maine attorney Susan Faunce filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a deceased prisoner against CCS/Wellpath, alleging that the company was negligent in neglecting to treat an illness, resulting in a terrible death that should have been prevented.
“Andrew Leighton received a death sentence,” she said.
It is Andrew’s family’s hope that by suing, they would bring attention to the hazards of the prison health care system and, as a result, keep other convicts safe from harm.
Hellish health care from CCS/Wellpath in Maine
On July 28, 2018, Leighton, 51, was serving a 27-year prison term when he visited a CCS/Wellpath dentist at the Maine State Correctional Facility. He was suffering discomfort in his bottom left teeth at the time. On August 22, 2018,
Leighton returned to the dentist because he was experiencing “excruciating pain in his teeth, nose, and neck.” He was given the antibiotic penicillin. Five days later, he reported to the dentist that the discomfort had subsided, but that he was experiencing sinus congestion and an earache. The dentist referred him to the medical specialists at Wellpath Medical Center.
On September 4, 2018, a nurse practitioner administered Leighton a different antibiotic as well as ibuprofen without first evaluating him or doing a physical exam. Approximately two weeks later, when Leighton complained of swallowing difficulties, a nurse checked him and allegedly discovered a golf-ball-sized lump in his throat.
He requested to be admitted to the hospital since he was unable to fall asleep owing to a blocked airway when awake. The nurse ignored his request and did not refer his symptoms to a doctor, as he had requested of her. Instead, she advised him to apply ice to his neck and to sleep in a slightly raised posture while recovering from his injury.
The next day, a medical aide observed that Leighton was having difficulty breathing and sounded “like a pig.”
She made a request that he be examined at a clinic. A little over an hour later, Leighton was discovered in his cell, unconscious. After repeated attempts to resuscitate him failed, he was pronounced dead. According to the results of an autopsy, the cause of death was acute inflammation at the base of the tongue, as well as complications from asthma and sepsis, among other things. His father’s lawsuit against Wellpath is still proceeding in Cumberland County Superior Court, according to media reports.
15 Seizures in the mouring time, then death – Michigan
As a result of the prescription drug pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of people imprisoned who have had withdrawal symptoms while in jail. The Muskegon County Jail in Michigan was the site of Paul Bulthouse’s death on April 4, 2019, according to a lawsuit. Bulthouse, 39, was suffering seizures due to withdrawal from prescription drugs that caused “severe and fatal withdrawal symptoms,” which were ignored before he died on April 4, 2019, at the jail.
Bulthouse had at least 15 seizures on the morning of his death, which occurred between 2:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Bulthouse died around 5:30 a.m. after suffering at least 15 seizures. The seizures were captured on tape, but the videos also reveal that guards neglected to do frequent welfare checks on the prisoners.
On October 15, 2021, a state court ordered the arrest and trial of four guards, including Sgt. David Vanderlaan, as well as Deps. Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve, and Jamal Lane, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Bulthouse was suffering from “hallucinations and vocal outbursts [that] were becoming more frequent and disturbing other inmates,” according to a lawsuit filed on his estate’s behalf in the days before his death. A notation in Bulthouse’s medical file, according to the lawsuit, stated that a Wellpath doctor had accused Bulthouse of fabricating symptoms.
On October 22, 2021, the Bulthouse family reached a settlement with Muskegon County for a total of $2.4 million dollars. Their attorney, Marcel Benavides, will earn $791,000 in legal costs, and the remaining money will be divided among the three members of the family. See: Bulthouse v. County of Muskegon, USDC (W.D. Mich.), Case No. 1:21-cv-00281-PLM-SJB.
Willingham Family death thanks to CCS/Wellpath
Richard Willingham’s family claims that he was another victim of Wellpath’s Cost Containment Program when he was arrested and booked into the Shelby County Jail in Tennessee in July 2020 with a prior history of pulmonary embolisms. He was released from the Shelby County Jail in August 2020. Willingham began complaining of chest problems and difficulties breathing while being kept in a COVID-19 quarantine cell for 21 days, according to medical records.
“Mr. Willingham presented with many, if not all, the major symptoms of a pulmonary embolism at the nurses’ station, and they just gave him a shot of blood thinners and sent him back to his cell,”said Brice Timmons, an attorney who represents Willingham’s estate.
Several months after the treatment, Willingham made a sick call request claiming to be suffering from blood clots and mentioning the procedure. Timmons initiated a lawsuit against Willingham.
“PLEASE HELP ME,”Richard Willingham’s last plea to the health care “officials”.
It took 25 hours for him to be taken to the hospital after he reported to the nurses’ station. On July 14, 2020, he passed away in the hospital.
“We really want a West Tennessee jury to send a message to all the defendants in this case and other jail medical contractors and law enforcement officials that it is unacceptable to let people die of treatable and preventive illnesses while they’re in your custody and under your care,” Timmons said.
To learn more about this case, go to Case No. 2:21-cv-02035-SHL-atc in the Western District of Tennessee.
There just complainers, we are great!
Prison health care is a contentious issue, with a large number of cases being filed. However, there are significant barriers to prevailing on such a claim. First and foremost, there is the question of determining what transpired. There have been several reports of incidents in which papers have been forged in order to shield the guilty. Additionally, there have been instances in which a jail or prison misidentified the cause of death as “natural” when it was in fact the product of extreme negligence. Many pro se inmates find it difficult to overcome the financial burden of paying for expert testimony in order to demonstrate that they were subjected to willful disregard to a major medical requirement.
Companies such as Wellpath are well aware of these challenges and rely on them to succeed.
According to the Atlantic, Wellpath has been sued in federal court at least 1,395 times in the previous decade.
There is no mention of the number of times the corporation has been sued in state court. Wellpath does not publicly disclose the lawsuits filed against it, and the company battles tenaciously to keep the litigation and settlements it enters into from being disclosed to the general public. Wellpath recently lost a court challenge brought by the Human Rights Defense Center, which publishes PLN, after the corporation refused to provide public data relating to cases made against it by jails that it has contracts to service in Vermont, according to PLN.
“The number of lawsuits that are filed against Wellpath or any other for-profit or not-for-profit health care provider is not indicative of the quality of health care delivered, as any person may file a lawsuit regardless of merit.”As Judy Lilley, Wellpath’s Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, explained
“According to a study of closed malpractice claims against traditional emergency departments, nearly a third (32 percent) resulted in payment,” Lilley explained. Wellpath’s previous claim payout rate was less than a third of that figure. ” The previous time we looked into this data, we discovered that just 7% of our lawsuits had resulted in any type of settlement at all. The reality is that our devoted health care personnel are focused on promptly diagnosing and treating patients under extremely tough circumstances on a daily basis.”
Settlements are an integral aspect of CCS/business Wellpath’s strategy. The company reduces the quality of service by reducing the number of specialist appointments, postponing medicines, and operating with skeleton teams. When this paradigm of public health is used, it limits the provision of compassionate and appropriate medical treatment, which results in scenarios such as those described in this piece of writing. The few instances that do result in a settlement are a drop in the bucket for a corporation that generates $1.6 billion in revenue every year, according to the company.
Marc Moreno’s death
The example of Marc A. Moreno, 18, who died as a result of police wrongdoing, demonstrates the difficulty in seeking justice in the face of serious misbehavior. Moreno was detained in March 2016 on misdemeanor warrants while suffering from a mental health crisis. He was released the following month. His booking into the Benton County Jail in Washington, rather than being brought to the hospital, was a better choice for him.
Moreno, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was taken to the hospital and confined in a padded “safety cell” after making suicide comments. There was no bed, toilet, or sink in the cell. A mental health professional from CCS/Wellpath attempted unsuccessfully to interview Moreno via his cell door, but he “demonstrated ‘bizarre and illogical behaviors,’ as well as evidence of mania and psychosis,” according to the report. There was no treatment offered, and there was no referral to a psychiatrist referred to.
As a result, Moreno was forced to remain nude in his cell as he suffered from insanity. Observers saw him interacting with his meal and rolling around in poo. Even when guards reported that Moreno was not eating or drinking, no action was taken by Wellpath officials.
He dropped 38 pounds in the eight days before he was discovered dead in his cell on March 11, 2016, the result, according to an autopsy report, of an abnormal heartbeat and dehydration. Moreno had lost 38 pounds when he was discovered dead in his cell.
Moreno’s relatives filed a lawsuit. The litigation entered the discovery phase, and counsel representing Moreno’s estate were successful in obtaining a court order requiring the preservation of all paper and electronic data pertaining to Moreno’s medical care. While the litigation was ongoing, CCS merged with Wellpath to become CCS Wellpath. Wellpath had been promising that the finding will be made for 22 months at this point. Finally, it had to disclose that it had destroyed the evidence as part of a new, comprehensive document retention policy that it had implemented.
This is not a situation where defendants carelessly neglected to stop an automatic document destruction mechanism that was already in place, according to an order issued by a federal judge to Moreno’s estate in June 2020, granted a default judgment to the estate. “Rather, this is a case in which defendants decided to begin a document destruction policy in the middle of litigation over the teenager’s death.”
“While nobody can know the information contained in the destroyed emails, the breadth of the destruction is stunning,”added Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson.
Communications from CCS/Wellpath nurses and supervisors in the jail, as well as emails from corporate workers and those who did the mortality evaluation, were included in the collection. Only that one nurse was dismissed for failing to follow procedure is known, but neither her emails nor those of her management were saved in the investigation.
Benton County had already awarded Moreno’s estate a $1.2 million settlement, which was paid in May of this year. In September 2020, the corporation agreed to pay the family $4.5 million to resolve their lawsuit against the company.
Another died at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Virginia in 2018 after suffering from a bleeding stomach ulcer. Wellpath awarded his family $525,000 in compensation.
The former Travis County sheriff Margo Frasier, who now works as a criminal justice consultant, said that she has seen instances where the level of care has been improved as a result of contracting with a target group. “They should bring more to the table, some of these larger ones with national expertise,” she added. “But the downside of it is they are profit oriented, so they have an incentive to do whatever it takes to keep the contract and keep themselves from being sued, but not much more. They are in it to make money.”
The reason why privatization of jail and prison healthcare is the incorrect solution may be found in this statement.
Additional Sources: PLN, 13 News Now, The Appeal, The Atlantic, Bangor Daily News, Daily Memphian, Davis Vanguard, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, InsiderNJ, Journal News, Kearney Hub, Mirius Capital Advisors, mLive.com, New York Times, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Private Equity Stakeholder Project, San Diego Union Tribune, Telegram & Gazette, Tri-city Herald, WBUR, Virginia Public Accountability Project, Winston-Salem Journal