Corizon Health Inc., the company that took over management of the Allegheny County Jail infirmary last September, fielded more questions Thursday about delivery of medications to prisoners at the jail.
The topic came up at the monthly meeting of the county's Jail Oversight Board.
Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, who chairs the board, said that "100 people" had complained to her about not receiving proper medications. She called the situation "unacceptable."
And she said she was getting frustrated.
"It's now six months, and you can see we are no better off than when we started," she said.
But Calvin Johnson, the chief medical officer for the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company, said the issues that Judge McDaniel and others raised at the meeting would be resolved.
"I assure you, that I am committed, and my team is committed, to doing the right thing and fixing the problem," he said.
William McKain, the county manager, said in a statement that the county also wants to ensure patients are receiving appropriate medical care.
"We continue to keep the line of communication open between Corizon, the courts, the jail and the manager's office," Mr. McKain said.
Jail warden Orlando Harper declined comment.
Corizon signed an $11.5 million contract to manage health services at the jail, which it started doing Sept. 1. Since then, the company has been on the receiving end of complaints about delivery of medication and working conditions from its staff.
The Allegheny County controller's office is conducting an audit of the county's contract with Corizon. In February, members of the nursing staff voted to unionize.
Judge McDaniel said Thursday that there seems to be a "hostile environment" between the management and its employees.
"This is terrible," she said. "You guys need marriage counseling or something."
At last month's meeting of the Jail Oversight Board, Corizon officials said they had made improvements and had not heard complaints from the jail. But this month, the complaints flowed inside the meeting room at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
Dr. Johnson gave a presentation Thursday to board members about Corizon and its care philosophy.
After it was over, Teresa Latham, a registered nurse who works at the jail, then asked why the infirmary provided only two types of insulin for diabetic inmates, saying that some patients require other types for their care.
Dr. Johnson said medications would be changed for clinical reasons. He asked to be provided with specific patient cases to better respond, and said he would do so quickly.
After the meeting, Michael Wojcik, an attorney representing Corizon, called the insulin question a "misapprehension on the part of staff."
He said two standard types of insulin are kept in stock on site, and if health staff deems a different type of insulin necessary, it will be ordered for the inmate. It is a "more uniform and industry accepted" process than past practice, when all types of medication were kept in stock, he said.
He said Corizon would respond to other questions asked by the board.
Kaitlynn Riely: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1707. First Published April 3, 2014 7:19 PM