Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Arizona Fines Wexford SIOK for Neglect, Hep-C Exposure

Arizona's Department of Corrections (ADC) disciplines private contractors like parents who banish teenagers to the cozy confines of their bedrooms.

Wexford Health Sources, which recently took over prisoner healthcare in Arizona after winning a three-year. $349-million contract, was lined a paltry $10.000 after—among other disturbing incidents—a prisoner at the Florence complex hanged himself on Aug, 23, 2012 after not receiving his psychotropic medication for an entire month.

According to ADC, Wexford's failure to deliver the medication to the prisoner, who was found hanging from a sheet in his cell. was a "significant, non-compliance issue.” State records don't indicate whether or not the prisoner survived.

Wexford was also slow to report a nurse who, on August 28, exposed the insulin supply at the state prison in Buckeye to the hepatitis-C virus. Nwadiuto Jane Nwaohia administered a routine dose of insulin to a diabetic prisoner who also has hepatitis-C and then inserted the same needle into another vial to draw more insulin for the same prisoner. The vial. according to ADC Director Charles Ryan, was then placed among other vials in a medication refrigerator and got mixed up with other vials of insulin used that day on 103 diabetic prisoners.

Nwaohia was suspended, but Wexford didn't notify health officials of the exposure until eight days later. The state then deployed additional staff to correct the problem, saying Wexford failed to follow nursing protocols, mismanaged documents and didn't adequately communicate the contamination.

Also in August, a Wexford nurse at the women's Perryville prison complex in suburban Phoenix administered medication to a prisoner by having her "lick the powdered medication from her own hand." rather than putting the meds in a small cup of water. And a number of prisoners there, the state learned, "may not have been receiving their medications as prescribed due to expired prescription(s) and inappropriate renewals or refills."

ADC said it wants Wexford to fix staffing problems, properly distribute and document medication for prisoners, show some urgency and communicate better when problems arise. Ryan said in a written statement that Wexford is being afforded a chance to "improve communications and ensure the healthcare needs of the (prisoners) incarcerated by the State of Arizona are being met,"

Wexford, meanwhile, shifted blame back to the state. In a letter to Ryan, the company said that ADC "must recognize that the system that was in place" before Wexford's contract began in July was "extremely weak." The company also said that people who were hired by ADC to monitor Wexford are the same people who took the prisoner healthcare system into decline.

Source: The Arizona Republic

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login