Deep cleaning temporarily shuts down operating room at Augusta State Medical Prison

CSRA News

After reports of filthy conditions surfaced, the Georgia Department of Corrections promised to clean up Augusta State Medical Prison, beginning with a six-week long terminal cleaning that is currently underway. 

But a doctor who used to work there says the cleaning could actually be making things worse. Dr. Tim Young left before this cleaning took place, but says he still hears about what’s going on inside. NewsChannel 6 took what he told us to the Department of Corrections, and they did not refute his claims. 

“First of all, the building is 34 years old,” Young said. “I think there has been a failure to maintain the building properly over the entire period of time.”

The GDOC ordered a six-week-long, massive cleaning at the prison, in addition to hiring a new administrator. 

“The building is routinely maintained, but it has not been terminally cleaned…and that’s something that’s fairly unique to hospitals,” said GDOC Assistant Commissioner of Health Services Randy Sauls.

Dr. Young worked at the medical prison for 16 years. He blew the whistle on issues there last Fall.
 Two months later, he resigned. He says he felt like he was being punished for speaking up. 

We sat down  with him in January. Even though he doesn’t work there anymore,  Dr. Young says he still keeps in touch with people who do.

He tells us the terminal cleaning has devolved into a catastrophe. He says all that cleaning has shaken some asbestos loose, and lead to the shut down of a nursing unit and the operating room.

A DOC spokesperson confirms that the OR has been shut down because of the cleaning. 

Dr. Young says the cleaning, and the closures, have lead to a backlog of dozens of surgeries– that’s on top of the delays of medical requests that Dr. Young told us about during our January interview.
 
He says in one case an inmate who thought he had hemorrhoids waited more than a year for a consult, and eventually died of colon cancer. Dr. Young says that inmate was just one of hundreds of cases waiting to make their way through the system.

The DOC spokesperson says the operating room reopened last week for limited cases to be performed. She says inmates are being scheduled for surgeries at other facilities until full operations can resume.

We also asked about the asbestos. The rep replied that tiles were sent out for testing, and abatement of, and the repair, replacement, and treatment of those areas began immediately.

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