Families who have lost loved ones at Florida’s Lowell prison, the nation’s largest lockup for women, say that while the deaths have been attributed to natural causes, many would not have died had they received adequate and timely medical care, says the Miami Herald. Lowell has two doctors, two advanced nurse practitioners, and two dozen nurses for nearly 2,700 inmates. Frisoners and their relatives can exaggerate illnesses, incompetence or indifferent medical care, but the problems at Lowell and its sister facility, the Florida Women's Reception Center (FWRC), are well-documented. The Herald looked at nearly five years of medical complaints, audits, surveys and facility inspections at Lowell. The records show that, for years, the prison's infirmaries have been dangerously understaffed and its medical facilities often have failed to provide timely, basic treatment for common ailments such as hypertension.
Corizon, a private company, was brought in to provide care by Gov. Rick Scott, a former healthcare tycoon in 2013. He promised to slash medical costs and save money. Under Corizon, spending on health care at Lowell has dropped significantly, continuing a trend over the past decade. At the same time, inmates have been denied emergency care and timely treatment for chronic illnesses and routine cancer screenings, according to audits. Separately, state and county health inspections of Lowell have found problems with sanitation, food safety and contagious diseases that have, at times, led to quarantines, which the department calls “movement restrictions.” Parasites have been found in the water, and meat served to the inmates was deemed rancid in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.