Corizon Health, the private company contracted to provide healthcare at the Allegheny County Jail, responded this afternoon to a Monday City Paper story
that revealed inmates are not getting regular access to HIV medication, according to the ACLU.
"We know many of the allegations made in this article are untrue," reads the statement from Corizon sent to City Paper
through Harrisburg public relations specialist David La Torre. "Corizon Health’s top priority is providing quality care to our patients. We take seriously the concerns of patients, their families and the community related to clinical quality, especially when it comes to the treatment of HIV/AIDS."
When asked which specific claims the company believed were inaccurate, La Torre wrote: "We won't have any further comment."
State ACLU legal director Vic Walczak responded to Corizon's claims in writing, "We stand by our statements. [It] would take quite a conspiracy by the many patients who don’t appear to know each other, or [who aren't in] contact to all be complaining about the same problems."
The ACLU claims Corizon has failed to provide critical HIV medication to inmates in "a timely and consistent way." Walczak says they've discovered the jail is not properly testing the prison population for HIV, or conducting regular blood work to monitor levels of the virus. Walczak also contends there are failures to provide inmates with HIV medication upon release and offer "pre-release counseling" on managing the disease.
In its statement, Corizon wrote that it is collaborating with the CDC and "has piloted best-in-class HIV/AIDS rapid-testing that will be rolled out in Corizon facilities." Corizon would not disclose whether Allegheny County was included in that program and also would not reveal what the current HIV testing policy is.
The county health department directed all questions to county spokeswoman Amie Downs, who referred questions to Corizon. "This question, and the one that you asked of the Health Department, are both more appropriate for Corizon which provides medical care for inmates at the Allegheny County Jail," Downs wrote.
When asked through email whether that meant the county was declining to comment, she wrote: "Your questions about medicine availability and best practices are not ones that the County CAN [sic] answer. Those are questions that Corizon must answer."
Corizon's full statement to City Paper
Corizon Health’s top priority is providing quality care to our patients. We take seriously the concerns of patients, their families and the community related to clinical quality, especially when it comes to the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Woodrow Myers, CEO of Corizon Health, has been a long-term advocate for the issue, including serving as the Chairman of the Ryan White Foundation and promoting a shift in policy in Indiana as it relates to HIV positive patients.
Furthermore, Corizon Health, in collaboration with the CDC, has piloted best-in-class HIV/AIDS rapid-testing that will be rolled out in Corizon facilities.
While state and federal privacy laws prohibit us from discussing the details of any individual’s care or medical condition, we know many of the allegations made in this article are untrue. Corizon Health has not received any requests for information from the ACLU, nor have we been notified of a lawsuit to date.
As a physician-led company, our goal is to provide quality healthcare to patients who enter incarceration with more illnesses and chronic conditions than the general population. Many times they have not had access to medical care, and we are committed to doing all we can to restore them to health.