By Julie Small
The federal receiver who manages medical care in California prisons reopened admissions Monday at a Stockton facility for the state’s sickest inmates. The receiver's decision ends a temporary court-ordered suspension at Stockton's California Health Care Facility.
In early 2014 the federal overseer of medical care in California prisons suspended all transfers to the $800 million prison medical complex because of unsanitary conditions. Receiver Clark Kelso found doctors and nurses at the facility lacked essential supplies, such as bandages and catheters for incontinent inmates. He also found that staff was too small to provide around-the-clock care to the hundreds of inmates at the prison with complex medical conditions.
Spokeswoman Joyce Hayhoe said Monday that after a series of improvements, the Stockton prison may accept inmates again.
“We are going to slowly begin admitting medical patients,” Hayhoe said. “We’ll be very closely monitoring our progress to make sure that the things that we’ve been able to fix at the facility are sustained.”
The receiver hired a new medical CEO, streamlined the supply ordering process, retrained staff, and is in the process of hiring more nurses.
For its part, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation added hundreds of custody and support staff.
Spokeswoman Terry Thornton says a $12 million boost in this year’s budget will pay to add another 100 employees. “The increase in custody staff enables the medical staff to do their job and focus on providing inmate patient care.”
Don Spector, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, who monitors inmate medical care agreed conditions at the California Health Care Facility improved dramatically since January, but worried what would happen when the prison reaches full capacity -- with double the number of inmates.