Corizon Correction Healthcare, the Brentwood, Tennessee-based for-profit prison healthcare company responsible for treating 220,000 prisoners in 22 states, isn’t exactly known for going overboard when treating patients, but some inmates aren’t even receiving the basic care needed to keep them from dying.
Take the example of Walter Jordan, a longtime inmate in the Arizona prison system. When the 67- year-old inmate started developing obvious skin cancers on his bald head in early 2017, he was not sent to an oncologist. Instead, Corizon sent him to a dermatology clinic, where the cancers were burned off – but that is not the standard treatment for such large cancer lesions.
By July, the open wound on his head had grown deeper, and a Corizon medical provider wanted Jordan to receive radiation therapy. Instead, she was told to give him Tylenol with codeine for pain. Corizon even refused to give Jordan SPF 50 sunscreen to offer him some protection from the heat and dust of prison.
His is just one of many stories alleging that Corizon is not providing inmates with the healthcare services they should receive.
Jordan’s Farewell Letter to the Court
In August, Jordan penned a letter to the court in August, and was right on the mark when predicting his own death.
“ACOD [Arizona Department of Corrections] and Corizon delayed treating my cancer,” he wrote. “Now, because of there [sic] delay, I may be luckey [sic] to be alive for 30 days.” Jordan did die the following month. “The delayed treatment they gave me is causing memory loss, pain. Too many inmates in East unit have the same issue,” and he named several people. “All these are inmates denied treatment by Corizon, among others, and all [are] falling, yelling, screaming of pain.”
When he wrote this statement, the cancer was already in the process of eating into his brain.
Whistleblower Dr. Bianca McDermott Fired & Files Lawsuit
In April, 2017, Dr. Bianca McDermott, the former behavioral health chief for the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), filed a lawsuit after she was fired from her position for what she deemed “whistleblower activities” relating to Corizon.
McDermott had complained about Corizon to her superiors as far back as 2009. Even though the New Mexico Attorney General’s office investigated her claims, she said the NMCD fired her in a retaliatory action in 2015. Others have filed lawsuits across the country on behalf of inmates who suffered or died because of Corizon’s inadequate care.
Completely Avoidable Loss of Denise Forte – Corizon Again
In Gwinnett County, Georgia, the family of Denise Gertrude Forte sued Corizon after the 53-year-old woman, who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, died after she was found shivering with a racing heartrate and given only Tylenol and an antihistamine.
She told the nurse who responded to her that her chest hurt, and she wanted to “go to medical.” The nurse refused the request, and three hours later, Forte was dead. Forte had been in prison on drug charges for over a year, and the prison knew that she suffered from COPD and the medical director was aware of the severity of her condition.
The family’s attorney deemed Forte’s death “completely avoidable.”
Left with a Colostomy Bag – Lawsuit Against Genesee County Jail & Corizon
Raheen Dudley, an inmate at Michigan’s Genesee County Jail, filed a lawsuit in March, 2017 against Corizon, the jail and other entities, alleging gross negligence and violation of his civil rights.
In September, 2016, Dudley experienced severe pain in his stomach, and asked to see a doctor. Instead, he was seen by a nurse, and a doctor refused to see him, even though Dudley’s temperature was above 100 degrees. The nurse would not release him to emergency care. The following day, he again requested a hospital visit, telling jail officials he felt it was a life or death situation.
It was not until six days after his initial complaint that he was finally sent for emergency care, and was operated on for appendicitis. Because of the delay, his appendix burst and Dudley required bowel resection, leaving him with a permanent colostomy bag.
An American Tragedy
Because the U.S. has no national healthcare policy outside of Medicare, it is arguable that inmates dependent on Corizon for care may be better off than those on the outside with no health insurance.
That is simply an American tragedy, which doesn’t look like it will improve anytime soon. Still, Corizon was paid millions in taxpayer dollars to care for inmates, but they were more focused on their bottom line than on prisoner health.
Certainly, the death of some of these Corizon victims, like Jordan, borders on cruel and unusual punishment. Tylenol is not going to alleviate cancer pain. As long as these for-profit healthcare companies can put profit over health, this unacceptable situation will continue.
If you or a loved one is a Corizon victim. We can help. Our lawyers take on America’s largest corporations and hold them accountable – Corizon’s conduct and reckless disregard for the rights and health of prisoners in their care is contemptable. Learn your rights on a no-cost call with an experienced jail death and injury lawyer. 866.836.4684 or CONNECT ONLINE