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Jail medical staff still short of requirements

Hernando County Jail's medical staff continues to fall short of state requirements despite the firing of a supervisor and a nurse after an inspection earlier this year.

Although several paperwork problems cited in the March 9 inspection have been fixed, a report released Friday says some inmate health appraisals still do not include testing for tuberculosis and venereal diseases.

The March inspection by the state Department of Corrections revealed that, along with the lack of those tests, officers at the privately managed jail failed to:

Document physical examinations of inmates within two weeks of incarceration.

Record visits at required 15-minute intervals for inmates with suicidal tendencies.

Routinely send summaries of medical records to facilities where inmates are transferred.

On May 19, Erin Britton, a nurse with the National Health Network, re-inspected the jail, which is managed by Corrections Corporation of America.

She reported that most of the problems had been corrected. However, four of 20 health appraisals reviewed did not include testing for communicable diseases.

Larry Davis, assistant administrator at the jail, said in April that CCA would challenge the blood-testing violation because so few files were found without the tests. The tests are meant primarily for inmates who will work in food services.

After the March inspection results made headlines, jail administrator L. T. Brown fired two people on the medical staff. Two new staff members have been added.

Ed Sobach, DOC's chief jail inspector, said CCA should follow its policy of testing all inmates for communicable diseases, whether the inmates want to work in food services or not.

Davis said Friday the four new files questioned all were done by the same nurse. "Her understanding was that everyone who was a trusty was supposed to be tested," Davis said. "Actually, it's for all the inmates." The nurse was given a written reprimand, Davis said.

"We'll just keep track, cite them when we want to bring something to their attention," Sobach said. "Unless it gets to be something pretty flagrant, we won't take any action. They had a few cites, but the breadth of the inspection wasn't that bad."

The next regular inspection probably will be conducted in September or October, Sobach said.