Ohio prisons will hire more doctors and overhaul medical facilities as part of a multimillion-dollar settlement with inmates who claim they receive inadequate health care, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. The settlement resolves a federal lawsuit that sought improvements in all aspects of the prison medical system, from dental care to staffing levels to the nutritional value of meals. Prison officials said the agreement would cost taxpayers an additional $7 million next year on top of the current $140 million.
Lawyers on both sides said the reforms would pay for themselves because many of the changes emphasize preventive care and are expected to reduce the number of more serious – and expensive – illnesses. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also fiscally smart,” said David Singleton of the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice & Policy Center, which sued on behalf of Ohio’s 45,000 inmates. He said the settlement calls for hiring nearly 300 more medical personnel, mostly nurses, and signing contracts with 21 additional doctors to work in state prisons. The prisons employ 477 medical personnel and have contracts with 63 physicians.