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Local officials respond to anonymous complaints on prisoners' medical care

Published January 19. 2012 05:01PM

Carbon County Correctional Facility officials are taking proper measures to ensure the safety of the inmates.

During the monthly county prison board meeting on Wednesday, officials responded to anonymous complaints about the medical staff at the prison.

Diane McFadden, a mother of two of inmates at the prison, approached the board about information she heard about the prison not taking proper care of the inmates when medical issues arise.

"I'm here because I'm concerned for their safety," she said to the prison board.

Robert Crampsie, chairman of the board and county controller, asked if her sons had been complaining about the medical services being provided.

McFadden responded that they had not.

Crampsie said that the county received some anonymous complaints but nothing specific. He added that the medical director of the staff is responsible for making sure inmates get proper medical care and he would be made aware of any specific problems.

"We want to make sure all of our inmates are treated in a professional way," Crampsie told McFadden, "and if there are any medical concerns that they are being addressed."

Warden Joseph Gross informed the board that the medical staff is currently treating three cases of scabies in the prison.

"Our nursing staff has done everything they can do to provide health care treatment to the three individuals who have scabies," he said. "They have been provided with prescription medications. They have seen dermatologists. They have seen our in-house doctor, and out of the three who have it they are on the way to recovery.

"We have also had them entirely delouse their cells, wash their linens in the hottest water we can possibly provide, and we're monitoring their conditions."

Commissioner William O'Gurek said that these anonymous complaints make it hard for the county to address these issues because of the lack of specifics.

"If there is a problem, I wish the persons who are making the allegation or complaint would identify themselves and the problems," he said. "It's real hard for us to guess what people are referring to when they anonymously say that there are situations here that we're not aware of."

Gross noted that the prison had not received any anonymous complaints about the medical staff not providing proper health care; but the commissioners office, as well as TV-13 has been receiving anonymous letters and phone calls.

McFadden then asked about why nothing is known.

Sheriff Dwight Nothstein informed McFadden that because HIPPA law is in place, officials are not provided with inmate medical conditions that were diagnosed by the doctor.

Gross added that cases like the three the prison are dealing with or other infectious diseases like MRSA could be prevented if the inmates took better care of themselves.

"Personal hygiene is key," Gross said, noting that not all residents shower and bathe often enough to ward off infections. "You need to shower daily. You need to bathe daily. You need to take care of yourself and turn your laundry in on time because that's the way we can combat stuff like this."

In other matters, the lightning suppression system that is proposed for the prison is on hold.

That's because the contractor hired to help write the bid specs has stopped cooperating with the county.

Officials said they plan to speak with the county solicitor on the matter.

The board also held its annual reorganization prior to the meeting. Officers are: Crampsie, chairman; Dwight Nothstein, vice-chairman; O'Gurek, secretary; and Daniel Miscavige, solicitor.

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