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Emergency Situation Declared At Florida Women’s Reception Center

barbed wire prison fence
The Florida Channel
An audit found serious health care deficiencies at a Florida women's prison.

An oversight board has declared a health care emergency at a Florida women’s prison, according to records obtained by WMFE.

The Correctional Medical Authority’s did an audit of the Florida Women’s Reception Center in Ocala. It found “life threatening” issues that needed immediate medical care, according to a letter sent Sept. 22.

“A thorough review of (Florida Women’s Reception Center's) healthcare delivery system … revealed several deficiencies related to delays in treatment and inmate care,” wrote Jane Holmes-Cain, the executive director of the Correctional Medical Authority, in a letter to state officials. “These findings are considered to be very serious, and require emergency notification and the Department’s immediate attention.”

Inspectors found:

  • A diabetic prisoner didn’t get insulin for two to three months.
  • An inmate with a golf ball sized lump was denied an MRI in July, and still hasn’t seen a surgeon.
  • An inmate with a history of cervical cancer had an abnormal screening in May, but no follow-up until August – despite having symptoms that the cancer had spread to her brain.
  • Missing and incomplete records for the 1,000 inmates.

Florida Department of Corrections spokesman McKinley Lewis said all the major issues identified in the audit have been addressed. The state is working through a correction plan.
“I do know additional staff were brought in,” Lewis said. “They came from central office here, and I believe Corizon did bring in some additional staff as well to handle some issues. But I can’t speak specifically to what Corizon’s actions were.”

Corizon is Florida’s for-profit health care contractor for prisons. Company officials didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for this story.

State officials said they plan to re-bid Corizon’s contract in December or January after multiple reports of issues with inmates.

Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.g.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.