Court slams sick jail

Auditor: Inmates’ health neglected at DeKalb County Jail

The sick and the jailed are suffering because of negligence at the DeKalb County lockup, and the county has done little to make emergency changes, according to a court-appointed auditor.
Last week, the auditor reported to a DeKalb Superior Court judge that the county jail has failed to heed a September court order to control the spread, treatment and diagnosis of communicable and chronic diseases. A lawsuit filed in 1998 by 11 county inmates names DeKalb County, its Sheriff Sidney Dorsey and the jail’s medical-care provider, among others, as defendants.
“I told the judge we believed the defendants were in contempt of court,” says plaintiffs’ attorney Chip Rowan. Rowan has prepared, at the judge’s request, specific instructions for improving major flaws in health care at the jail.
Rowan’s 15-page, 39-point proposed order calls for the testing of incoming inmates for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. It asks for repairs to the jail’s respiratory-isolation rooms, where suspected tuberculosis sufferers are held so they won’t infect other inmates. It demands a deeper medicine chest, including HIV drugs, anti-psychotic drugs and certain asthma medications. It calls for timely responses to inmates’ requests for medical attention and orderly filing of each inmate’s medical records.
Both Rowan and court-appointed auditor Dr. Robert B. Greifinger allege that the jail has failed to some degree in all of the above responsibilities. DeKalb County Attorney Jonathan Weintraub, representing the sheriff and county, did not immediately return phone calls.
This is not the first time the jail’s health care provider, Correctional Health Care Services Inc., has been sued. A federal lawsuit filed by HIV-positive inmates in Fulton County was settled out of court in January. Weeks later, Fulton County fired Correctional Health Care Services as its medical provider for the jail.
It’s also one in a series of controversies involving Dorsey, who lost a re-election bid during the August primary.