June 25th, 2019

CNN Investigates: ‘Help me before it’s too late’

Behind bars, they beg for medical attention from the giant government contractor entrusted with their care. For some, help doesn’t come – or it comes too late. A CNN investigation exposes preventable deaths and dangerous care that government agencies have failed to stop.

The investigation centers on the country’s largest provider of correctional healthcare, Correct Care Solutions – now known as Wellpath — which has been hired by jails, prisons, immigrant and juvenile detention centers, and psychiatric facilities. It draws heavily on hundreds of pages of internal documents and emails, medical records and scathing correspondence from government clients, as well as interviews with more than 50 current and former employees.

While the company has defended its work and said it provides quality health care to a very needy and vulnerable population, CNN’s Melanie Hicken and Blake Ellis found that across the country the same themes have been documented. Doctors and nurses have failed to diagnose and monitor chronic illnesses and life-threatening diseases. Employees from the company have denied urgent emergency room transfers. They have failed to spot or treat serious psychiatric conditions and have allowed common infections and conditions to become fatal.

  • In 2016 an Illinois jail sergeant told investigators that she was about to call an ambulance for a 59-year-old man when CCS employees determined it wasn’t necessary. The man died a little over 24 hours after entering the jail.
  • In New York, a jail employee wrote in a facility incident report that he “had to endure and watch” a 36-year-old inmate take his last breath in 2013 because he was denied medical treatment by medical staff.
  • “Please help me before its to(o) late,” a 60-year-old man wrote from a Virginia jail in 2016 before ultimately dying of a perforated ulcer that filled his stomach with a pint of blood.
  • “Help, I am very sick,” a father of five wrote days before he died in a pool of blood and vomit when his severe pneumonia went untreated in 2014.
  • Employees at three facilities told CNN that workers shredded medical requests or hid them in boxes because of a lack of staff and resources. In other places, requests had been found stuffed in drawers or ignored for weeks.
  • One county that terminated its contract after less than two years called the company’s performance “morally reprehensible.” Another said CCS’s failures had turned its jail into a sinking submarine.

 

Read the full investigation here:  https://cnn.it/2ZP30Cv

 

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Press Contact: Kylie.Gudzak@CNN.com