Much attention has been given an Arizona Magistrate Judge’s order finding the Arizona Department of Corrections in contempt over the quality of inmate healthcare in Arizona. As our CEO Steve Rector pointed out in a statement issued following the order, the ruling disregards the progress that has been made in meeting and exceeding the required 85 percent compliance minimum with 849 quality measurements contained in a legal settlement agreement between the ACLU and other and the State of Arizona. Corizon Health and the ADOC currently are exceeding minimum compliance on 90 percent or more of those 849 measures. To understand why then that the judge – on his last day on the bench – took this action, a motion filed by the state in February sheds light on the lack of impartiality that dominated this case. Hopefully, the state – and more importantly, the taxpayers – are spared the cost of the fines imposed and, moving forward, benefit from a fair and impartial judge. A link to the motion is embedded below.

2641 - DEFS MOT to Disqualify Magistrate Judge Duncan

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Corizon Health CEO Steve Rector offered the following statement in response to Federal Judge Magistrate David K. Duncan’s court order issued earlier today:

“Today’s ruling by Federal Magistrate Duncan against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) unfortunately fails to recognize the progress and improvement that is and has been the reality of inmate health care since the ADC engaged in a settlement with ACLU plaintiffs in 2014.

As the healthcare provider chosen after the plaintiff’s lawsuit was initiated, Corizon Health has worked diligently with the ADC to increase and meet compliance with the 849 measurements contained in the law suit settlement. That progress now reflects exceeding minimum compliance rates on 90 percent or more of the measures. With an average of more than 4,100 patient encounters a day, Corizon Health is successfully providing an exceptional level of health care to Arizona’s prison population.

This ruling, combined with the loss of millions in taxpayer dollars that will be paid to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys, negatively impacts critical funds needed to meet the requirements of the settlement and it also demonstrates ACLU’s higher regard for pursuing their stated public policy objective of reducing inmate populations. This legal battle unfortunately also underlines why incarceration policy is best made under the direction of Arizona’s elected policy leaders, the Governor and state legislature and not in courtrooms.

Make no mistake, be it Corizon or any other private healthcare provider, the ACLU will attack the mere existence of private healthcare providers in our prison system and its levels of incarceration, regardless of any accomplishments by a provider.

This charade by the ACLU is sad for the taxpayers of Arizona and for the inmate population we serve. Though Corizon Health was not a party to this suit, we will continue to work closely with ADC to provide Arizona’s inmate population with the best care in what is often difficult circumstances. We are hopeful the State of Arizona will choose to appeal the Court’s decision and we look forward to continuing to work constructively in supporting the ADC’s and Corizon Health’s steadfast improvement in the delivery of health care.”

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As sourced by the Arizona Department of Corrections

Corizon Health and our Arizona Department of Corrections partner have surpassed minimum compliance scores on more than 90 percent of the measures monitored under a court settlement agreement for at least the past six months. Motions have been pending for several months for the court to remove hundreds of the measures from monitoring due to 24 months of consistently exceeding required scores.

The settlement agreement was the result of a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU and others against the Arizona Department of Corrections in 2012, three years before Corizon was asked to take over providing healthcare services in Arizona prisons. Corizon is not a defendant in the lawsuit and did not participate in the settlement agreement that was worked out between the ACLU and the state. It identified almost 900 clinical measures to be audited monthly by state compliance monitors. The goal of the settlement is to reach and maintain for 24 months an 85 percent compliance threshold for each measure to meet the terms of the settlement agreement. Less than 10 percent of the total measurements remain to be brought to a consistent 85 percent compliance level.

Our dedicated team of healthcare providers in Arizona is working tirelessly to resolve challenges that create barriers to care and deliver a constitutionally sound healthcare program, grounded in evidence-based medicine. These doctors and nurses, many of whom view their practice as their mission in life, work in one of the most challenging environments to deliver care to one of the sickest and most under-served populations in our society. Many of our patients enter incarceration with multiple chronic disease issues and having had little, if any, access to healthcare. We understand the importance of returning these patients to health so they may successfully reenter society. We’re proud of our team and the gains they have made to improve the quality of Arizona’s prison health program.

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The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) recently re-accredited the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, New Jersey, after collaboration between jail administrators and Corizon Health staff ensured all standards were in compliance. The NCCHC is an independent organization established by the American Medical Association to set standards by which jails and prisons are measured. The initial accrediting and every three-year re-accreditation process is an exhaustive deep dive by NCCHC inspectors into all aspects of inmate welfare, reviewing hundreds of standards and lasting several days.

A key challenge to meeting all standards was ensuring individuals entering the facility received a health assessment within their first four hours at the jail – a goal made more difficult following New Jersey’s Bail Reform policies, which increased the length and complexity of the intake process by eliminating the ability to post bail before making a court appearance. Meeting this challenge required the jail to increase custody staff, and Corizon’s team established a triage process to assess all inmates
immediately after booking to identify those with the greatest medical needs. Next, a newly renovated intake area was built to provide nurses with a separate area to assess inmates confidentially and expedite their intakes as well as referrals to a practitioner when necessary. The result is that most inmates are seen in less than two hours.

Pictured are Corizon’s “Core 5” at the Passaic County Jail. From left to right Diane Lourido, RN, Compliance Coordinator; Dr. Joel Federbush, Director of Behavioral Health; Allison Genberg, LCSW, Health Services Administrator; Dr. Richard Berardi, Site Medical Director; and Sharon MacIntosh, RN, Director of Nursing.

 

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