Concerns raised by nurses in state prisons

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.