NYC Health & Hospitals officially took over the $237 million health program that serves inmates at Rikers Island and other city jails in January, ending the city's relationship with Corizon Health, a for-profit correctional healthcare provider. While the health system begins the arduous work of addressing safety and staffing concerns within the program, many of the same problems remain.
In the months leading up to the takeover, NYC Health & Hospitals reshuffled its leadership structure and completed credential reviews and background checks on the 1,200 workers employed under Corizon. About 85% of those employees were rehired, according to a spokesman for the system.
“During this transition period, there were no lapses in coverage and no disruptions in patient care,” Dr. Ram Raju, CEO of NYC Health & Hospitals, said last week during a city council health committee hearing.
Two healthcare workers who remained at Rikers said they haven't seen any improvements and have yet to receive any additional training or orientation. “Clinically, I haven't really noticed a difference,” said a mental-health treatment aide at Rikers, who declined to be named. He said he did have a 10-minute interview about his job duties before NYC Health & Hospitals took over.
If anything, the quality of care has suffered during the transition, said a therapist in the mental-health unit at Rikers, who has worked there for three years. “Our case loads are so high,” she said. “Every day we're expected to see way too many people, given the eight-hour time frame.”
NYC Health & Hospitals' Division of Correctional Health Services did not comment on the issue of high case loads or whether any additional training or orientation was planned.
Administrators are working with the New York Department of Correction to address persisting safety and organizational issues that have affected the quality of care delivered to the city's inmates, Patsy Yang, the system's senior vice president for Correctional Health Services, said during a hearing before the city council health committee last week.