California boasts the largest medical prison in the nation at the cost of $840 million, but the medical prison is under scrutiny for being mismanaged by hospital and prison faculty. The facility, which was built to provide care to over 1,800 inmates, is the largest medical prison in the nation.
Once it became fully operational, it was supposed to be used to assist California’s prison system reinvent itself after years of federal flubs created by the constant neglect and pitiable medical treatment of the inmates. Since opening in July of 2013, this state of the art health care facility has been overcome by waste and miscommunication between the medical and prison staffs.
Upon touring the facility, lawyer Rebecca Evenson stated that the building was meant to fix what was wrong with the prison health care system in California but not only were they not providing adequate care, they were also not providing shoes, towels, or even soap to the inmates. Evenson declared she was shocked by the magnitude of all the problems.
Inmates-rights lawyers and hospital staff described the scenes there as deplorable. Reports that were filed claimed that inmates had to leave the hospital in broken wheelchairs and were made to lay on soiled bed sheets. There was even an incident where due to a lack of medical supplies, hospital administrators were forced to drive into a nearby town to get catheters from a local hospital.
Advocates for the prisoners quoted nurses who were not happy with working conditions. The nurses told the advocates they could not get anything but leaky adult diapers or latex gloves that did not fit them. The shortages were documented and sent to officials in Sacramento. Over the course of several month over 38,000 towels and washcloths had been ordered for 1300 inmates, yet prisoners were reportedly drying off with their socks or allowed no shower at all and were told their towels had been thrown away.
A spokeswoman the Department of Corrections said problems the facility encountered were not uncommon for new facilities, and the operation was complicated by the mission of the medical prison. However the court ordered overseer for this California’s prison medical system, stated the facility’s problems went beyond missteps and shortages. He also said that since the basic systems implemented did not work, everybody just did what they thought was best instead of fixing the problems.
Food in the prisons kitchen failed health inspections, causing the prison to order thousands of meals from Stockton for $10 each. When the kitchen was reopened the new sophisticated heating system melted the inmate’s dishes. The California prison was mismanaged and the state of the art appliances only seemed to complicate things even more.
Glitches in the computers warehouse inventory program meant the staff had to enter orders by hand and the electronic medical records system became so faulty doctors went back to using paper. The state also underestimated the amount of staff necessary to run the facility, and one inmate died after his attempts to reach nurses failed. Because of how badly the medical prison in California has been mismanaged, the facility has stopped accepting new inmates and no new patients are being admitted at this point.
By Sarah Wright