Three nurses who formally worked at the Broome County Jail are filing a lawsuit, claiming they were forced to falsify the medical records of inmates. The suit isn't with the jail itself, but rather, Correctional Medical Care, the company hired by Broome County to provide health care to inmates. Vince Briga caught up nurses Maggie McDonnell, Jennifer Rivers and Nicole Dzeidzec to find out where these allegations are coming from.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Caring for an inmate is of course the top priority for medical professionals at any correctional facility.
But according to three, now former nurses at the Broome County Jail, that care was restricted.
Now, they've filed a lawsuit with Correctional Medical Care, which is the company hired by the county to care for inmates.
In it, they claim the company forced them to falsify the medical records of inmates, in an attempt to pass accreditation, but refused.
"I have a responsibly to these individuals, whether they're inmates or whatever their case may be, I have a responsibility to provide them with the appropriate care," said Maggie McDonnell, Nurse.
According to the claim, nurses were directed to backdate sick call sheets, resulting in some inmates being denied medication.
In one circumstance, they were alerted by the jail that an inmate was suffering from serious abdominal pain.
He was brought to the hospital, but ordered to return back to the jail.
"Your intestinal track could have ruptured and you could be dumping those contents into your abdomen. There's a multitude of conditions that can cause that that can be fatal," said McDonnell.
Attorney Ron Benjamin claims these medical issues could drive up cost, leading the company to try to cut back.
"Inmates are not being given services, simply because the organization is trying to cut its own cost to make the contract profitable," said Benjamin.
In a statement, the company says they've donated more than $2 million to jails they support.
They also claim one nurse was terminated for inappropriate conduct, and a second was actually terminated after admitting to falsifying records.
The third allegedly resigned after her job performance was assessed.
"They had already pulled my clearance so I was not able to work in the jail anyway," said Jennifer Rivers, Health Services Administrator.
The nurses are seeking to win back the wages lost from their salaries
Correctional Medical Care Inc. released the following statement:
The suit filed by three former employees of CBH Medical is baseless and built upon a number of lies and exaggerations. Allegations that CMC was engaging in practices aimed at keeping its costs as low as possible are patently false. CMC and CBH Medical have donated in excess of $2,105,599 in staffing since their inception to address the rising acuity and severe health concerns in jails. The correctional facilities house a population with the highest levels of chronic disease, mental health, and substance-abuse problems. No employee of CBH Medical or CMC has ever been instructed to falsify a medical record.
One nurse was terminated by her co-litigant before the end of her probationary period for inappropriate conduct. That co-litigant was responsible for the medical unit in the Broome County Correctional Facility and voluntarily resigned after having her job performance addressed. One nurse was terminated and reported to the Office of Professions after admitting to falsifying medical records during an investigation, which was immediately reported to the Office of the Attorney General.
It has become a cottage industry for some plaintiffs’ attorneys to abuse public perception and distort and exaggerate facts for their own personal gain. This attorney reached out to us and made a six-figure monetary demand to settle and avoid public scrutiny. We chose to proceed to litigation. This complaint, like any other, will go through the litigation process to separate facts from unfounded allegations.
Correctional healthcare companies employ thousands of qualified and caring medical professionals – our neighbors and colleagues – who, alongside correctional staff, saves thousands of lives every day.