Thursday, January 24, 2008

Half of TX prison doctor positions currently vacant

Dr. Ben Raimer from UTMB says more than 50% of physician slots at UTMB are vacant!!

CORRECTION: Apparently I (and every reporter and senator in the room) misheard Dr. Raimer; the UTMB PR director contacted me to say that Raimer said 15%, not 50%, of doctor positions are vacant. I apologize for the error.

I've been listening on and off this morning online to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee's hearing on medical care at TDCJ, which has mostly been a laboriously detailed questioning of officials involved with the inmate described in this Houston Chronicle article ("Injured inmate spent two days on cell floor," Jan. 24). (NOTE: The hearing is over; archived video will be available here soon.)

In addition, said Raimer 18% of registered nurses slots and 18% of mid-level practitioners positions are currently unfilled. Raimer said the Lege increased salaries for nurses and pharmacists, therapeutic staff, and as of Jan. 1 increased pay for physicians, who make between $140K to $160K per year.

Sen. Robert Deuell, who is a medical doctor, was particularly concerned that L.V.N.s were making "medical assessments" of seriously ill or injured people, or at least in the case described in the Chronicle. UTMB claimed the LVN may have called a physicians assistant working at another unit, but Deuell walked through the documentation to show that such a conversation was never recorded in the file.

The state is still suffering, Raimer said, from the 2003 budget cuts, and also higher cost related to the increase in the number of older and elderly inmates. Every year 1.5% more people come into TDCJ, he said, but 14% more every year turn 55 years old, after which they have 5-6 times more medical visits than younger offenders.

Related MSM coverage:


Anonymous said...

Pityful! The erosion continues. Brad: Did you really believe your testimony?

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

Yesh, Sen. Dr. Janek spanked Whitmire pretty good for interrupting the doctor. That was nice.

Anonymous said...

my son, the inmate was berated by a "nurse" at his unit for questioning the competency of the "doctor" checking him out. she said "DR. Blank runs a thriving practice the 'world'"...explain HOW since his tdcj contract calls for him to be there 8a-5p??? Furthermore, healthcare in TDCJ is the worst. It is second rate at best and rife with those who play god
with the needs of those requesting help...not everyone is just looking to get tranqed or juiced. TDCJ is so overloaded with corruption....makes me sick

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who's serving time has been shuttled between facilities several times this year, and her medical treatment varies wildly from place to place. I can tell at first sight when I go to visit how her treatment has been going, it's that blatant.

Anonymous said...

This is something that will only continue to get worse while the BPP persue their policy of not releasing inmates eligible for parole with the reason of "nature of offence".

The inmate population will continue to age, and those left behind will consist increasingly of what many people refer to as 'violent offenders' who are actually offenders charged with a violent offence which is not quite the same thing. Keep giving out sentences of 75-life which means parole eligibility after 37 years, and assume the average age of those inmates on reception is 20, and even me as a dyscalclic can do the maths.

For once, this isnt TDCJ (as in, the staff at the Units)'s fault. It is the Legislature's for not restoring the 1/4 time parole option for all inmates, and the BPP's fault for not releasing enough inmates who have evidence of family and community support and a good record of conduct.

Anonymous said...

I heard him say 50%, also. Obviously, HE misspoke.

Anonymous said...

The solution is obvious - expand UTMB's role in providing services to TYC. They don't need doctors - LVNs are so much cheaper, and after all these kids are just jr. criminals, so why waste the taxpayer's money on providing quality care? They don't deserve it, do they?

Now I'm going to have to go to the doctor to see if he can extract my tongue from my cheek.