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Who's Treating the Doctor

In September, 1994, the Washington DOC hired James McGuire to work as a psychiatrist at the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC). His work involves diagnosing and prescribing drugs to sex offenders, among other prisoners at the facility. This in itself is unremarkable. What is unusual is the fact that McGuire had lost his license to practice psychiatry in Alaska, and had to leave that state, because he had been having sex with a patient for a five year period. Alaska is one of the toughest states in the country to lose a medical license for medical malpractice, according to PLN sources.

Karma VanGelder, a former Alaska state trooper, testified before the Washington state Medical Quality Assurance Commission that McGuire was treating her for multiple personality syndrome and forced her to have sex with him. McGuire admitted having sex with VanGelder and is in group therapy. Kevin McGovern, McGuire's psychologist, said he thought McGuire was gaining insights into his problem and could safely handle the work at McNeil because he isn't interested in having sex with grown men.

The state asked the medical board to suspend McGuire's license to practice medicine here in Washington based on the Alaska suspension. The Department of Health asked that McGuire's license be suspended but he be allowed to continue a limited practice treating adult male prisoners with close supervision and continued psychiatric treatment for himself. The medical commission rejected both requests pending a full hearing on June 2, 1995.

Asked to comment, DOC spokesman Veltry Johnson stated that the DOC was fully aware of McGuire's Alaska suspension but hired him anyway based on his Aqualifications @ and the fact that his Washington license hadn't been suspended, yet. When legislators and irate citizens claim that prisoners are getting complete medical treatment and care they ignore the fact that the care providers are often poorly qualified, incompetent (see the July and October, 1994, PLN for the details on the death of Purdy prisoner Gertrude Barrow) and otherwise uncaring of prisoners' serious medical needs. In order to be paroled, go to minimum custody facilities, to a sex offender treatment program, etc., MICC prisoners must go through McGuire for a recommendation and evaluation. Is McGuire really in a position, qualified or capable of passing such judgments on others?

-Post Intelligencer

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