The state attorney general's office says it's investigating a company that has become New York's largest private contract provider of jail medical services.
The state Commission of Correction has issued critical reports about nine inmate deaths between 2009 and 2011 at county jails that contract with Correctional Medical Care Inc., the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin reported.
The company, based in Blue Bell, Pa., says it uses some of the most qualified and dedicated licensed medical personnel in New York state to provide inmate health services in a cost-effective manner.
"The reality is we do this work better than anyone else in our field because we focus first on delivering first-rate care to the incarcerated population," CMC spokeswoman Jessica Bassett told the newspaper.
Nazif Chowdhury, another CMC official, said inmates are cared for just as any other medical patients would be, but the care can be complicated by untreated medical and mental health problems often brought to the facility.
Yet, reports by the state Commission of Correction's Medical Review Board have found some level of fault with CMC in the nine inmate deaths. In some cases, it has also placed partial blame on correctional officers for mistakes.
The Medical Review Board has blamed CMC for failing to follow its own drug withdrawal and detoxification policies, for ignoring signs of mental illness and for failing to treat some illnesses, the Press and Sun-Bulletin reported. The board recommended county-level inquiries to decide if CMC is to continue to provide services at the Broome, Tioga and Dutchess county jails.
CMC has provide medical services at the Broome County jail since 2006 under contracts worth more than $18 million through the end of 2013. Sheriff David Harder told the newspaper he was satisfied with CMC's track record and noted few inmate complaints.
The state review board report said CMC failed to follow its own intoxication and withdrawal policy after Alvin Rios was booked into jail following his July 2011 arrest for criminal possession of a controlled substance. The doctor said he wasn't made aware of Rios' condition. The report said Rios was left in a "life-threatening status without appropriate medical attention" and died of a heart problem.
Spokespeople from the state attorney general's office and the education department, which oversees medical licensing, confirmed that CMC was the subject of an inquiry but declined to give further details.