AG sues Nassau prison medical provider, citing death of inmates

Roy Nordstrom died after being refused hospitalization for chest pain. Bartholomew Ryan hanged himself despite mental health assessments. Kevin Brown died from inadequate treatment for seizures and hallucinations. And they are not alone.

The three men are among five who have died since 2011 in the Nassau County Jail following inadequate medical treatment, the New York State Commission on Correction alleged in documents obtained by the hurry. The charges prompted New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to take legal action against Florida-based prison care provider Armor Correctional Health Medical Services demanding fines, an independent monitor health care in prison and prohibiting the company from bidding on contracts as is. The case was announced on Tuesday, a week after the fifth prison death this year and the 12th since 2011, officials said.

“Neglecting the duty to provide adequate care not only defrauds taxpayers, but compromises the health and safety of detainees, with sometimes fatal consequences,” said Schneiderman. “Failure to provide appropriate health services as required is totally unacceptable. “

Nassau County approved an $ 11 million annual contract with Armor in 2011. The state ordered the county legislature, the county executive, the county sheriff and Armor to review the findings of correctional board and take corrective action.

“Any allegation that Armor failed to provide quality correctional medical care at the facility is simply false,” Armor said in a statement. “Armor has provided a substantial amount of data which is simply inconsistent with any claim of impaired patient care. Armor is proud of his work with inmates at Nassau County Institution and will continue to do so for as long as Nassau County wants. Armor also intends to vigorously defend itself against the claims filed by the Attorney General. “

Representatives for Nassau County Sheriff Michael Sposato and Nassau County President Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) did not return requests for comment. Nassau County Executive Office Ed Mangano released a statement saying the county is hiring a prison health care monitor.

“While awaiting the attorney general’s findings, the county has formed a team of health and mental health professionals to review health care delivery,” County Attorney Carnell Foskey said. “The county has also hired a Commissioner of Corrections and the Department of Health has placed a registered nurse in the facility to serve as a contract health monitor. The county is looking to retain a correctional health care monitor until a provider is selected in the tender issued earlier this year. “

The county had hired Armor amid Mangano’s efforts to privatize county services, including the bus system, sewers, and other works traditionally run by officials.

RELATED STORY: Nassau County Jail: Suicides, Health Care Changes, Budget Cuts Call for Watch

Schneiderman’s lawsuit against Armor alleged that the company failed to respond to inmate care requests in a timely manner, failed to provide inmate prescriptions as needed, failed to effectively diagnose inmates, failed to provide appropriate mental health services, failed to provide access to offsite specialist physicians, understaffed clinical and managerial positions, and failed to provide reports mandated by the State to show that it fixed the previous problems.

In the case of Nordstrom, the 47-year-old Shirley man died on June 11, 2011 after a doctor was not contacted despite his squeezing his chest complaining of chest pain, had difficulty breathing and collapsed, according to a state correctional commission investigative report. Instead, Nordstrom was returned to his cell, until the next morning, when he was finally hospitalized, but it was too late. He was serving a 75-day sentence for violating a protection order.

In Ryan’s case, the 32-year-old East Meadow Iraq War veteran with PTSD underwent two mental health assessments but was not placed on surveillance on February 24, 2014, two days after his arrest. for drunk driving, condition found. An officer who checked him every 15 minutes found the ex-Marine hanging by a sheet from the bars of the cell, according to the report on his case.

Brown, a 47-year-old Far Rockaway man with a known history of traumatic brain injury, seizures and mental health diagnoses, died on February 10, 2014 after being jailed for petty theft, according to his report. Although officers saw Brown hallucinate and become increasingly restless, his care was lacking before he was found dead in his cell, the state said.

John Gleeson, 40, of Oceanside, died on July 14, 2014 after the state said Armor employees misdiagnosed heart disease two months after his arrest. The fifth case involved Antonio Marinaccio, 53, of Levittown, who reportedly died in prison on May 2, 2015.

Aside from the prosecution of the attorney general and families of deceased inmates, calls for changes to the prison have also increased. Lawmakers in the Democratic minority in the county legislature have called for the intervention, as have inmate advocates. An inmate died on March 7, the same day defenders held a press conference outside East Meadow Jail to draw attention to the issues. Critics applauded the news that the attorney general has filed a complaint.

“We are emboldened by the action of Attorney General Schneiderman and believe our voices and protests are finally heard,” said Dean Hart, president of Long Island Citizens for Good Government. “In our mind, there is no doubt that Armor Correctional Health Services defrauded taxpayers by taking public money and providing deficient services.

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