All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Monday, January 21, 2019

Too much itching! Is it time to scratch?

We’ve remained silent long enough on the skin rash issue at Michigan’s only prison for women.

For over a year, women at Huron Valley near Ypsilanti have been complaining about this problem. Already last February, prison doctors ruled out scabies. Now, nearly one year later, an outside doctor offered proof: Yep, it’s scabies!

Dermatologist Dr. Walter Barkey, whose name showed up a lot during the Flint water crisis as he checked out skin rashes, finally made his way into WHV with his microscope. It took some doing, but he has a friend with a relative in the prison. Using that wedge, he finally made it.

Now, following absolute proof of the cause, the entire prison is closed to visitors, and all prison residents---more than 2,000 women---are undergoing treatment for scabies.

We use this story to beg the question, once again, as to the effectiveness of Corizon, the private health services provider under contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Our Medical Director has had issues with Corizon for years.

Last week it was reported that Corizon, one of the largest corrections healthcare providers in the country, got fired by the State of Arizona. The Department of Corrections refused to renew their contract.

Just a couple years ago, Indiana did the same thing. Media in both of those states reported numerous horror stories of terrible medical care behind bars.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is quoted as saying that “thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Corizon.” We read recently that some 150 lawsuits had been filed by New Mexico prisoners against Corizon since 2007. 150!

Months and months and months of inaccurate diagnoses at WHV is just not an acceptable situation! And while news media kept printing stories, and medical people kept debating the cause of the problem, the women kept on scratching. The itch, as well as the lack of a solution, was driving them crazy! What’s it going to take to bring about change?

Our new state administration has renewed the contract with MDOC Director Heidi Washington. We think it’s time, now, for Director Washington to take a hard look at the contract with Corizon.

That itch has been going on long enough.


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Bob Bulten said...

Thanks, Doug, and the problem with Corizon is more than skin deep. There are way too many health care providers who treat the prisoners with as little real care as the corrections officers do. Concern and empathy by conscientious providers would go a long way to alviate the health care crisis in our prisons. We have taken the Hippocratic Oath, after all.

Unknown said...

So glad this problem has been identified and finally being treated.