Jail Contractor Blamed for Inmate Deaths

     (CN) — New York state’s top prosecutor sued Nassau County’s farmed-out prisoner health care provider, claiming its negligent care of inmates led to at least a dozen deaths since 2011.
     Over the years, Armor Health has been the target of at least a dozen federal lawsuits in Brooklyn Federal Court.
     New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the lawsuit Tuesday, claiming that at least 12 people have died because of inadequate health care while incarcerated in the Nassau County Correctional Center, located in the central area of Long Island, N.Y.
     The Florida-based Armor Correctional Health Medical Services won an $11 million yearly contract with Nassau in 2011 to handle health services for prisoners, but Schneiderman says it doesn’t provide adequate health services to inmates.
     One died just last week, he noted, and three others have died since March of this year.
     “Prison inmates rely on companies providing health services for a wide range of medical issues, many of which have gone untreated,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Those struggling with chronic diseases, mental health and substance abuse problems deserve comprehensive reliable and high-quality medical care.”
     He continued, “Failing to provide proper health services as required is completely unacceptable. Neglecting the duty to provide adequate care not only defrauds taxpayers, it compromises the health and safety of inmates, with sometimes fatal consequences.”
     Among the host of allegations New York’s top legal expert launched at the company included a bullet-point set of allegations for failing to respond to inmates’ request for medical assistance, not rising to the level of care it promised it would provide, denying medications to inmates and not offering proper mental health services as needed.
     The 43-page lawsuit, filed Monday afternoon in New York Supreme Court, claims a state medical review board “found egregious lapses in medical care” in seven inmate deaths.
     “The NYAG’s investigation revealed that Armor has not met its contractual obligations to Nassau County as evidenced by the following: inadequate self-assessments (or ‘self-audits’) and inadequate continuous quality improvement processes that would ensure quality of health care services; deficient sick call procedures; failure to provide access to medications; inadequate diagnostic services; deficient mental health services; inadequate referrals to specialists; failure to maintain…its equipment and…accurate and complete medical records; and inadequate staffing,” the complaint states.
     Schneiderman wants an independent monitor brought in to “oversee ongoing compliance with the contract,” stop the company from bidding for future health service contracts in the state, and impose unspecified fines.
     In a statement, Armor said it “will not respond until it has time to review the complaint, but any allegation that Armor has failed to provide quality correctional medical care at the facility is simply false.”
     “Armor has responded to the Attorney General’s office’s numerous requests for documents, repeatedly has presented its personnel to answer any and all of the Attorney General’s questions, and repeatedly has offered to give the Attorney General’s office a tour of the facility so that it could see first-hand the quality of care provided by Armor,” the company said.
     It says the AG’s office “has refused to visit the facility. Further, Armor has provided a substantial amount of data that simply is contradictory to any claim of deficient patient care.”
     “Armor is proud of its work caring for the inmates at the Nassau County facility, and will continue to do so as long as Nassau County wants it to do so,” the company said in a statement. “Armor also intends to vigorously defend against claims filed by the Attorney General.”

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