I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Former prisons health care provider slapped with lawsuit
A new lawsuit filed in federal court this week accuses a former corrections department contractor of medial malpractice in its care for the state’s prisoners, the Albuquerque Journal reports today.
The lawsuit names Wexford Health Sources Inc., Corrections Secretary Joe Williams, medical professionals and others on behalf of a former Penitentiary of New Mexico inmate named Martin Valenzuela, 52, who now lives in Texas, the paper reports.
According to the complaint, Valenzuela was serving an eight-year prison sentence at the Santa Fe prison in 2006 when he developed a urinary tract problem that led to an emergency hospital admission. The complaint describes lack of medical attention leading up to a January 2007 surgery, lack of a policy for follow-up care and the subsequent loss of medical records by the prison and the hospitals, according to the paper.
This is not the only lawsuit against Wexford that alleges improper care. Others have been filed previously.
Here’s an excerpt of the Journal story:
Wexford is also defending against a lawsuit filed by an inmate who claimed he was essentially lost in the system for purposes of chemotherapy he needed to treat colon cancer, although he was housed within a few hundred feet of the Los Lunas prison hospital.
Michael Crespin’s medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2008, but he died before his attorneys could persuade a court to order a videotaped deposition in the case. The lawsuit, now being pursued by a personal representative on behalf of Crespin’s estate, has been mired in a fight over what documents must be produced by Wexford.
Lawyers for the estate are demanding documents related to financial contributions, gifts, meals, entertainment by Wexford company officers between 2001 and 2008 to Gov. Bill Richardson, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish or any of the political action committees that might have supported them, including Si Se Puede PAC and Moving America Forward PAC.
The Journal story goes on to list still other lawsuits that allege improper medical care, including one in which four women allege sexual assaults, batteries and rapes by former Correctional Medical Services employee. Another has been filed by the family of a federal detainee who died while awaiting a deportation hearing in southeastern New Mexico is alleging medical negligence.
Wexford Health Sources was cited often for problems when it held the contract to provide health care in New Mexico’s prisons. It eventually lost the contract.
A May 2007 audit by the Legislative Finance Committee found gaping holes in the delivery of care provided by Wexford, including too few physicians, dentists and optometrists on staff, according to two prison health experts that visited five facilities in February and March of that year.
Wexford also failed to issue timely reports on 14 inmates who died at correctional facilities in 2006, the audit found.
The Santa Fe Reporter, meanwhile, did extensive reporting on the health care delivered in New Mexico’s prisons and first uncovered the lapses.