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Agreement reached on “complete reconstruction” of state prison healthcare system

Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019

* This happened during break. From the AP

A court-appointed expert would guide the overhaul of health care for Illinois prison inmates in a proposed federal consent decree filed Thursday.

Lawyers for approximately 40,000 state prison inmates announced that the Illinois Department of Corrections’ agreement would settle an eight-year-old federal lawsuit alleging that prison health care is so inadequate it has led to needless deaths.

A U.S. District judge in Chicago must approve the consent decree, in which the state admits no wrongdoing. It provides for a court-appointed monitor to oversee the complete reconstruction of prison-system health care. The monitor would assist in creating a plan for adequate staffing of medical and dental professionals and an outline for implementing other system-wide changes.

The agreement, signed last month by Corrections Department Director John Baldwin and a legal representative of Gov. Bruce Rauner, contains specific qualifications for physicians and other providers, requires upgraded health care space and equipment, hiring staff members dedicated to infection control, developing an electronic medical records system and implementing a stringent quality assurance program.

No word yet that I can find about how much this will cost.

* Tribune

During the legal battle, reviews by court-appointed experts in 2014 and 2018 reported pervasive problems in the health care provided in Illinois prisons. The most recent report attributed numerous preventable deaths to the poor quality of care, according to court records.

“Based on record reviews, we found that clinical care was extremely poor and resulted in preventable morbidity and mortality,” the 2018 report stated.

In one case, a 24-year-old inmate with mental illness swallowed two sporks and a nurse “documented that the patient ‘will have no complication from swallowing a foreign object,’” according to the 2018 report. Over several months, the inmate complained to several staff members and medical personnel of symptoms related to ingesting the utensils. The inmate died about three months later.

“The death was attributed to a gastrointestinal bleed from lacerations caused by a foreign body,” the 2018 report stated, noting the Corrections Department’s own review “found no problems with medical care.”

The 2014 report includes the case of a 26-year-old inmate at Illinois River Correctional Center who “repeatedly informed health care staff that he had atrial fibrillation, a fact that was confirmed by his jail records, but this history was discounted until he suffered a stroke.

The filing is here.

* Related…

* How solitary confinement drove a young Illinois prison inmate to the brink of insanity

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments »
  1. - SOIL M - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    A good first step would be to cancel all outside Healthcare Services contracts and put complete oversight, control, and accountability back in the hands of DOC.


  2. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    While I don’t know a great deal about the health care system in IDOC, I have seen it in action I watched with interest, the way the health care people had to deal with repeat game playing by inmates. It is not surprising the staff becomes less then sympathetic having heard the same inmate come in and complain about non-existent maladies for months, or even years. This is part of the games played by inmates. I am not stating that this is the norm in every case event but it happens a lot. That being said, as an educator in IDOC for almost 20 years, I watched the State violate FAPE and ADA. Special Education was basically abandoned. Many inmates came in with a history of Special Education needs and were ignored. Some of the inmates between 17 and 21 were entitled to services by law.About 10 years ago this ended, and to my knowledge has not been reimplemented. So I am not really surprised that problems exist across the board in IDOC.


  3. - We'll See - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    Rauner believed he could dissolve/eliminate consent decrees and now his delays are going to cost taxpayers even more.

    In 2016 Rauner told The News-Gazette “One of the big things we’ll be pushing — we have another round of legislation that we’ll be proposing soon — and one of them is to get out of all these court orders and consent decrees. They are causing us to spend money on certain things beyond what anybody wants.”


  4. - JackD - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    Good work by the Uptown Peoples law Center in getting the decree accomplished.


  5. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    –No word yet that I can find about how much this will cost.–

    “Complete reconstruction?” I’m guessing quite a bit.

    Looks like Rauner and BTIA(TM) stopped foot-dragging once they knew they wouldn’t be around to implement the agreement.

    That’s leadership.


  6. - Boom - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    A parting gift from Rauner - another consent decree.


  7. - JackD - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:54 am:

    Good work by the Uptown People’s Law Center in obtaining the decree.


  8. - Perrid - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    How does this CD play with the mental health decree DOC signed right after Rauner took office? I’d imagine there is some overlap.


  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    How exactly was he going to get the state out of these consent decrees in the first place? Isnt it done to avoid liability? Further this is a Federal case, not State.

    I guess I already know the real answer to that question.


  10. - efudd - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    In a word-Wexford.
    If you want to end the debate of privatization of government services, simply say “Wexford”.


  11. - Just learning - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Agree with efudd about Wexford. IDOC needs multiple changes and some type of real oversight.


  12. - Mama - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    Funny how this bill passed as Rauner exits the capital. The cost won’t be cheap and now he will blame the higher spending on JB.

    Will this bill address the big mental health problems in prisons?


  13. - Triumphant - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 6:02 pm:

    How are they going to meet the standards for physicians? The physician over inmate healthcare makes about $200,000. A physician who has been practicing for 20 years has the potential to make extremely more than $200,000. What doctor wants to live in a rural area? They have to be paid to go to those areas.


  14. - Sick and Tired - Tuesday, Jan 8, 19 @ 9:51 pm:

    Sorry Soil but tried that and it was worse. Star employees could not manage healthcare because so many non healthcare people were put in the position of making medical decisions way out of their lane. While I agree Wexford can make many improvements we also have to ask what DOC has done to monitor their contract. I was at DOC many years ago and inmate healthcare has improved.


  15. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 5:35 am:

    I have been ridiculed for suggesting that Illinois’ progressive income tax will mirror the one in California. But just meeting current spending levels, AFSCME back pay, and now this, you can see why the need is there. Throw in the dozen or so new programs JB campaigned on and you get the 8.3% for those making $150,000/yr filing joint married.


  16. - Robert M Roman - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 5:56 am:

    @Retired Educator: an acquaintance of mine worked as a special education teacher for IDOC some decades ago. Her experience was pretty consistent with your comment. Also, back then new employees were given “The Games Inmates Play” to read, so the mistrust was cultivated. Arguably a survival skill warehousing humans, but not so much otherwise.


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