State News
7:16 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Concerns raised by nurses in state prisons

IPR's Robert Wildeboer reports:

Nurses working in Illinois prisons are raising concerns about the care being given to inmates, and the company that’s supposed to provide the care.

Mary Johnson spent 12 years as a registered nurse at the Graham Correctional Center about 50 miles south of Springfield, Illinois. Johnson was a state employee.

Many of the other medical employees work for Wexford, a private company with a 1.4 billion dollar contract to provide healthcare for inmates.

Johnson told a house committee scrutinizing that contract that Wexford puts unreasonable restrictions on medical supplies. Some of the issues are seemingly minor.

“We routinely run out of cups for the med-line which the vendor is to provide. When that happens, then the department of corrections has provided those cups at a cost to them,” says Johnson.

Other issues are more serious. Johnson says the prison’s EKG machine was out of order for 9 months. Democratic representative Greg Harris is pushing for a third party to audit the health care being provided in the prisons. Wexford says they welcome such oversight.