How Prison Health Services Handled AL HIV Inmates


In Limestone Correctional Facility at Harvest, Al., the state quarantined male prisoners with H.I.V. and AIDS, until the death toll – 36 from 1999 to 2002 – prompted inmates to sue and the government to promise change, the New York Times reports. Alabama fired a local company in charge of medical care and hired Prison Health Services, the nation’s largest commercial provider of inmate health care. Prison Health recruited Dr. Valda M. Chijide, an infectious-disease specialist who arrived last November.

Though the company had promised other doctors, she was left alone to care for not only the 230 men in the H.I.V. unit, but the 1,800 other prisoners, too. Nurses were poorly trained and medical charts were a mess, she said. Dr. Chijide lasted barely three months. After she complained in writing, Prison Health suspended her for reasons it would not disclose, and she quit. The Times says that “her short, frantic stint – battling for drugs, hospitalizations and extra food for skeletal inmates, she said – was not unusual in the world of Prison Health Services, which has had a turbulent record in many of the 33 states where it has provided jail or prison medicine.” Her story gives an inside view of how the company operates.


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