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‘The Judge Is Upset:’ Federal Court Pursues Investigation Into Corizon Health Over Arizona Prison Allegations

Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, January 18, 2018

At a Dec. 20 status hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan read aloud from a KJZZ report detailing allegations of denying specialty health care in Arizona prisons. Duncan said it looked like Corizon, the health-care provider the state contracts with, was trying to perform an “end run” around the monitoring process he oversees. The judge called for a special hearing to explore the merits of the allegations and “see how deep this evil goes.” …

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On the Inside: The Chaos of Arizona Prison Health Care
Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, December 18, 2017

The Arizona Department of Corrections contracts with privately owned, correctional health care company Corizon Health to oversee all medical, mental and dental care at 10 state prisons. However, that care has come under scrutiny in federal court. In 2015, inmates settled a lawsuit with Arizona over poor health care conditions in state prisons. More than two years later, Arizona and its provider have failed to meet the more than 100 stipulations agreed to in the settlement and a federal judge is threatening to fine the state millions of dollars. Inmates have testified in the settlement process to long wait times for medicine, delayed chronic disease care and a lack of access to specialists. The voices in this series confirm those allegations and more, recounting their experiences with the Arizona prison health care system. …

Low Staffing Levels at Arizona Prisons Could Lead to Big Fines
Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, August 9, 2017

A federal judge will appoint an outside expert to address low health care staffing levels in Arizona prisons and could soon issue economic sanctions against the state. For years the state has failed to comply with performance measures from a settlement between the state and the inmates. The main reason for the failures is staffing, and Judge David Duncan said economic currents are to blame. At a status hearing Wednesday, Duncan said the state’s private contractor, Corizon, has made the decision to simply pay fines instead of paying for full staffing at state prisons. … Duncan became increasingly incensed when hearing of the state’s failure to comply with measures that guarantee inmates access to their prescribed medicine. He repeated his threat that the state is facing steep fines and suggested economic sanctions to counter Corizon’s profit motive. …

Settlement Concluded Between OSHA and Altamont Ambulance

Source: Greg Sapp, 979 XFM, January 19, 2018

A settlement has been finalized between the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Altamont Ambulance Service. OSHA opened investigations in January 2016, after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens exposure and various other health and safety standards. … Six different activities were alleged in January 2016. Two of those alleged violations by Altamont Ambulance, two by Effingham City/County Ambulance and two by Vandalia Ambulance. The current penalties total $149,000. The initial penalties totaled $379,000. Altamont Ambulance has ceased operations in Effingham County and Fayette County.

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Emergency medical service provider fails to protect employees from risks of bloodborne pathogens: OSHA proposes fines of more than $290K to Altamont Ambulance Service
Source: OSHA Regional News Release, July 7, 2016

Federal safety and health investigators found Altamont Ambulance Service Inc. failed to follow specific guidelines to protect emergency healthcare workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other hazards while providing patient care. On July 6, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued five willful, 16 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to the emergency medical service provider with proposed penalties of $290,100. The agency opened inspections in January 2016, after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen exposure and various other health and safety standards. …

… The agency’s Fairview Heights area office found the employer failed to:

  • Establish an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material.
  • Make Hepatitis B vaccination series available to employees.
  • Train workers about chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and precautions.
  • Develop an emergency response plan.
  • Dispose of, clean or launder contaminated personal protection equipment.
  • Train workers in operations level emergency response.
  • Communicate decisions on the use of personal protective equipment to employees.
  • Develop a respiratory protection program to protect again infectious diseases.
  • Train workers about the use of hazardous chemicals in their work area.
  • Conduct an exposure determination for blood borne pathogens.
  • Provide injury and illness logs to inspectors within four hours.
  • Mark, keep clear and properly light emergency exits.
  • Follow electrical safe work places. Investigators found opened breaker panel boxes, extension cords used as fixed wiring, exposed light sockets.
  • Train workers in the use of fire extinguishers.

OSHA investigating Altamont Ambulance complaint
Source: Bill Grimes, Effingham Daily News, March 1, 2016

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an inspection of already-embattled Altamont Ambulance Services, Inc. The administration opened the inspection Jan. 6, according to the OSHA website. Area Director Aaron Priddy of the administration’s Fairview Heights office would not go into specifics about the probe, but he confirmed there has been a complaint filed against the service. Altamont Ambulance has been the sole emergency ambulance provider in Effingham County since 2004. In November 2014 the county sought to open the ambulance market to other providers, but that move is tied up in court. …

MT plans to take over developmentally disabled case management detailed

Source: Jonathan Ambarian, MTN News, January 17, 2018

Leaders with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services now believe they will be able to maintain targeted case management services for 3,600 Montanans with developmental disabilities. Four nonprofits – Helena Industries, AWARE, Opportunity Resources and the Central Montana Medical Center – currently receive contracts from the state to provide case management for these Montanans. However, DPHHS announced last month that, because of state budget cuts, it would end the contracts and take over the responsibility itself. … DPHHS leaders initially announced they would be able to keep providing case management for 2,700 people who receive care through comprehensive Medicaid waivers. But Matthews told reporters Tuesday they now believe they can also serve another 900 to 1,000 who are covered on a state plan or are on a waiting list for a Medicaid waiver. … Department leaders say taking over case management services themselves will save $2.5 million by June 2019. …

Watchdog group finds errors with work on Mississippi prison food service

Source: Associated Press, January 21, 2018

A private company is not meeting all the obligations under a food service contract with Mississippi prisons. That is the finding of a legislative watchdog group that looked at the work provided by Aramark. Since in July 2016, the company has done food preparation and delivery for 22 prisons and regional jails in the state. In a report dated Dec. 18 and publicly released last week, the legislative PEER Committee said the company has fallen short of staffing obligations and has not provided the type of training specified under the state contract. …

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Family wants answers after relative dies during AMR transport

Source: Matt McFarland and Kaitlyn Naples, WFSB, January 11, 2018

A local family is demanding answers from an ambulance company. William Scanlon’s family said they have a number of questions after he died on his doorstep when he was transported home from the hospital. They say he needed oxygen to breath, but that for some reason, when an American Medical Response ambulance transported him back home Saturday morning, with temperatures hovering near zero, not only was he not hooked up to oxygen, they say the ambulance crew also made him walk. … AMR said it expects to finish up its internal investigation soon. The family said they’ve already met with a lawyer and are filing a lawsuit against the company.

Library groups call for inquiry after Carillion collapse

Source: Natasha Onwuemezi, The Bookseller, January 17, 2018

Libraries body CILIP has called for a public inquiry to investigate whether the government knowingly issued contracts for the delivery of public services to a failing company following the collapse of Carillion. The government services provider has gone into liquidation after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts of around £1.5bn, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors. Carillion has run several public library services since 2013, including Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow. Hounslow terminated its contract with Carillion last August and on Tuesday (15th January), Croydon Council stepped in to “secure the long-term future” of all its libraries and “guarantee the jobs of library staff” by taking the running of its library service back in house. However, the councils of Ealing and Harrow have told The Bookseller they have not as yet terminated their contracts with Carillion. …

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Croydon libraries to be run by the council again to ‘protect jobs’ after Carillion collapse
Source: Andy Datson, Croyden Advertiser, January 15, 2018

Croydon Council has announced it “intends” to terminate its contract with troubled contractor Carillion and that it will take back control of running libraries across the borough, “protecting” jobs in the process. Construction giant Carillion announced on Monday (January 15) that it is to go into liquidation, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors…..

Now Carillion remove home library service from the disabled
Source: Inside Cryodon, November 20, 2017

Carillion, the building company which runs Croydon’s public libraries, has been accused of “blatant discrimination” against the disabled over plans to withdraw the home library service from January 1, something described as a “disgraceful and stupid decision”…..

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Detroit Medical Center service workers seek new contract, decry “penny-pinching”

Source: Sarah Cwiek, Michigan Radio, January 21, 2018
 
The Detroit Medical Center is still trying to reach a new contract with some unionized workers at its five Detroit hospitals, after service and maintenance workers overwhelmingly rejected a tentative contract agreement earlier this month.  Those workers, who range from janitorial staff to equipment technicians, say the first deal offered by the DMC’s for-profit owner, Tenet Health Care, was simply “inadequate.”  “They want to give us about a 30-cent wage increase, and yet they’re increasing our insurance premiums anywhere from 24-39%. And so basically, we’re just falling backward,” said Donna Stern, a Children’s Hospital of Michigan employee and a unit chair with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 140. …

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DMC Surgery Hospital remains closed; housekeeping outsourcing nearly settled
Source: Jay Greene, Crain’s Detroit Business, January 22, 2015

Detroit Medical Center’s Surgery Hospital in Madison Heights is still closed more than six months after a torrential rain flooded it along with much of Southeast Michigan. DMC officials still haven’t decided what to do with the shuttered hospital in which all the employees have either been laid off or transferred within the eight-hospital system. …. On DMC’s plan to outsource its environmental services department to Sodexo USA, Conrad Mallett Jr., DMC’s chief administrative officer, told Crain’s that negotiations are moving steadily and a final resolution is expected by Feb. 1. …. In October, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn ruled that DMC needed to engage in arbitration with the housekeepers union – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 – before it signed a contract with Sodexo.

DMC workers protest hospital’s plan to outsource job
Source: Holly Fournier, The Detroit News, October 27, 2014

About 70 employees of the Detroit Medical Center’s environmental services department rallied Monday to protest the hospital’s plan to outsource housekeeping jobs to a company called Sodexo. Their protest came moments before a 3-hour hearing Monday in Detroit’s federal court to address the hospital’s plan. The hearing continues with oral arguments Wednesday morning.

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Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria Contract Spending Revisited

Source: Project on Government Oversight, January 8, 2018

Back in October, the Project On Government Oversight did a top-level analysis of federal government spending on Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria recovery contracts, as reported by the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). The FPDS spreadsheets contain a wealth of data that allow the public to track billions of dollars in federal contract expenditures in precise detail: the agency awarding the money, the amount, the purpose, and the recipient. At that time, the government had spent a total of $1.65 billion on contracts. However, FPDS imposes a 90-day delay on the release of Department of Defense (DoD) data, so we were missing a big piece of the spending puzzle. Now, DoD numbers are starting to trickle in and we are getting a more complete picture of federal contracting outlays for the recovery efforts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The federal contract award total now stands at $3.3 billion: $1.2 billion for Harvey$726 million for Irma, and $1.4 billion for Maria. … Federal expenditures on Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria contracts have now surpassed the $3 billion spent for Hurricane Sandy and are steadily approaching the $20 billion total for Hurricane Katrina. As the total grows, so too will the misuse of those funds. To that end, POGO plans to release a database that will track all federal spending relating to Hurricane Harvey. …

City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing

Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018

Municipal broadband networks generally offer cheaper entry-level prices than private Internet providers, and the city-run networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of service, a new study from Harvard University researchers found. Researchers collected advertised prices for entry-level broadband plans—those meeting the federal standard of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds—offered by 40 community-owned ISPs and compared them to advertised prices from private competitors. The report by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard doesn’t provide a complete picture of municipal vs. private pricing. But that’s largely because data about private ISPs’ prices is often more difficult to get than information about municipal network pricing, the report says. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. …

Editorial: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

Source: Editorial Board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 14, 2018

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military or prisons, are not part of federal or state governments, Medicaid pays for the care of 62 percent of all nursing home patients, amounting to $55 billion in 2015. … In a remarkable story published Dec. 31, Kaiser Health News reported that the owners of nearly three-quarters of the 15,600 nursing homes in the United States buy a wide variety of goods and services from companies in which they have a financial interest or control. Nursing home owners can rent the land to themselves at above-market rates, or own the staffing company that provides nursing care and management. These business dealings, known as related-party transactions, offer efficiencies that can hold down costs and help minimize taxes. … In the nursing home industry, however, with its reliance on taxpayer dollars, related-party transactions can also encourage insider dealing, maximizing profits for the outside vendors while siphoning off funds needed for patient care and staffing. If a nursing home gives a no-bid contract for, say, linen services, to a firm controlled by the nursing home’s owners, it often pays inflated prices. … For nursing home owners, a complex web of related-party transactions can offer a shield against lawsuits or governments seeking restitution for Medicaid overpayments. This is outrageous. …