Guam – The US Attorneys Office is slamming the Department of Corrections for failing to comply with the requirements of a settlement agreement with the US government for access to adequate medical care for inmates.
In a report filed in District Court, Assistant US Attorney Mikel Schwab said instead of working with the US government, it appears DOC is trying to “cover up” something.
The recent Tuberculosis scare a the Department of Corrections and dozens of other complaints from inmates are just some examples of the department’s inability to handle the ongoing crisis at the prisons, according to a report filed by Assistant US Attorney Mikel Schwab in District Court.
Schwab is asking the court to order DOC to produce a detailed plan within 90 days for maintaining professional healthcare and security staffing levels at DOC. He is also demanding that DOC formally adopt and begin implementing within 30 days core policies that were previously developed that would address access to medical and mental health care for prisoners.
Schwab writes that DOC’s lack of cooperation and apparent failure to comply with Section VII of a settlement agreement suggests that DOC is “attempting to hide something, and based on evidence available, the state of healthcare provided by DOC appears to have declined rather than improve in recent years.”
In fact, he says, DOC has been aware of its deficient health care practices since September of 2009 when Dr. Joseph Fowlkes of the Department of Justice outlined in a report a review of all of DOC’s medical practices. He began developing a plan that would help DOC come into compliance with the settlement agreement, but it was never implemented, documents state.
Several years later, the report states,“it appreas that the territory continues to operate in a reactive mode, perpetually responding to the latest crisis rather than following any plan calculated to provide adequate access to care for DOC inmates.”
And to further prove an attempted cover up, Schwab highlighted the abrupt departure of psychologist Dr. Andrea Leitheiser.
“Rather than be transparent and allow the Monitor and the United States to learn more about the reason behind the psychologist’s departure specifically, and the lack of stability among medical and menthal health providers more generally, the territory chose to be disingenuous,” the report states.
Schwab notes that while DOC claims it was Dr. Leitheser’s decision, it was in fact a 35 percent reduction in her salary and a non-negotiable 120-day non-renewabnle contract that drove her to leave.
DOC has been without a psychologist for at least three months. Earlier this month one inmate, Bank of Guam robbery suspect, Jathan Tedtaotao reported that he had not received medication to treat his mental health conditions for about 3 months. It is not clear if that issue has since been resolved.