County Jails Face Staff Shortage
Alameda County is investigating accusations by Prison Health Services staff at two county jails that a shortage of medical personnel is endangering their own safety and inmates' health, MediaNews/Contra Costa Times reports.
County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, chair of the board's health committee, is overseeing the investigation and currently is awaiting documentation of staff levels from Prison Health Services. The company's workers in the complaint said that staffing was 30% to 50% below contract requirements from August through December 2006.
Prison Health Services holds a three-year, $51 million contract with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to provide medical services to 4,000 inmates at the Santa Rita county jail in Dublin and Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland. The contract will expire in June.
Sheriff's Capt. Bert Wilkinson said that the company generally met staffing contract requirements through December 2006 but that it fell short of the requirement on certain days.
Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers-West said that nurses were forced to work overtime and that inmates' access to care was denied because of a nursing shortage. The union represents 120 Prison Health Services workers.
The company in December 2006 signed a contract with the union that set a 45-day deadline to create a plan for recruiting and hiring more medical personnel, according to a union spokesperson.
Bill Wilson, the company's administrator for the jails, said that a joint committee has been established to focus on recruiting efforts (Woodall, MediaNews/Contra Costa Times, 1/5).