Calif. Medical Prison Resumes Admissions After Six-Month Hiatus
On Monday, the California Health Care Facility -- the nation's largest medical prison facility -- resumed admissions, the Stockton Record reports (Johnson, Stockton Record, 7/21). The facility had stopped accepting admissions after it was plagued with problems since it opened last year.
The $840 million facility in Stockton opened in July 2013 and was expected to provide care to more than 1,800 prisoners.
However, J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed overseer, in February halted admissions to the facility after an inspection found unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates.
A report on the facility found that it failed to provide sufficient hygiene and medical supplies to patient inmates. In addition, the report noted that one patient had died from excessive bleeding after his calls to nurses were unanswered for more than 30 minutes.
Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) revised fiscal year 2014-2015 budget proposal included an allotment of $12.4 million for the facility to fix "unanticipated operational issues" and to remedy "licensing standards."
Deborah Hoffman, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the facility also would use the funding to create 106 new positions, including 77 prison guards (California Healthline, 7/14).
On Monday, Kelso said he was "pleased with the progress staff members have made" at the medical prison facility.
He added that the facility "will resume medical admissions" and that his office "will continue to monitor and improve practices at the facility to ensure our efforts are sustainable" (Imperial Valley News, 7/21).
Officials said the move comes after Kelso's office:
- Changed leadership at the medical prison facility;
- Hired additional staff at the facility;
- Increased training for employees; and
- Implemented new supply procedures.
CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton said the agency is "pleased that the receiver decided to resume medical intake."
However, Don Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Office, said he continues to have "serious concerns" about the facility and that his group will continue to "closely monitor the situation" (Stockton Record, 7/21).
An attorney at the Prison Law Office toured the facility last week and found:
- A delay in processing of inmate complaints;
- Medical records were hard to review; and
- Policies and procedures to address ongoing problems still were being drafted (Thompson, AP/Bellingham Herald, 7/21).