Officials and locals react to ongoing jail medication concerns
APPLETON (WLUK) - Outagamie County officials responded to a report by an independent consultant, citing concerns about inmates receiving their medications.
After complaints surfaced, the Outagamie County Risk Management Administrator requested that independent review. The report was labeled "confidential and privileged,” and was completed at the end of May.
Several issues were brought up. They included: recommending the wrong medication to pregnant inmates, inmates not routinely given their medication, and others not receiving their prescriptions at all.
Tuesday, for the first time, it was discussed at the county's public safety meeting with the physician who conducted the review there, via Skype.
In his nine-page report, Dr. Johnny Wu pointed out a number of areas of concern in the jail's medication process, some that even put patients' lives at risk.
The board-certified physician surveyed a sampling of inmates on medications, booked into the jail last year for the independent review. The review sampled 85 out of 599 inmates.
“I was dumbfounded. I can’t believe that we’re treating our citizens this way,” Outagamie County Public Safety Committee Chairman Dan Grady said. “Dr. Wu showed a number of flaws in the system, and a number of ways that things can be fixed, and we have to fix them for everybody’s good.”
Members of the public, many of whom had family members incarcerated or had been locked-up themselves at the jail, spoke about the issues they encountered.
An Appleton resident whose son had been incarcerated at the jail spoke about the dangers of not the administrating or delaying medication to inmates.
“Later in the afternoon and in the evening, he still didn’t have his meds. We again called the jail and stressed that if he didn’t receive his meds he would become suicidal. The following day, our son attempted to make a noose and kill himself in the jail.”
Another speaker from the public, mother of a former inmate and now advocate Lisa Hanneman also spoke about the experiences she went through while her son was in the county jail.
“There was 30 pages of proof just like, you know, this proof that he didn’t get his anti-seizure pills for five days or his chemo pill was given to him the same time as his anti-nausea pill, so when you have to wait 40 minutes to catch up, you’re already violently ill.”
Correct Care Solutions is the contracted healthcare provider for the county jail.
In just the given three-month sample period of jail bookings, Dr. Wu found several cases where it appeared CCS nurses were not educated on current up-to-date guidelines.
CCS officials who were present Tuesday disagreed.
“Documentation and some of the other tweaks, again, and with refusals…those are some logistical things that we need to probably work with the sheriff’s department to correct,” said CCS local detention senior vice president Stan Wofford. “But, again, I feel the patients in this county are getting great care.”
CCS officials offered explanations for some of the supposed concerns raised in Dr. Wu's report. As for recommending incorrect medication to pregnant inmates, CCS medical director and sponsor Dr. Adeyemi Fatoki said there is no medical literature indicating the medication suggested was harmful or inappropriate.
When it came to the length of time it takes for patients to get their meds, Fatoki said that is due, oftentimes, to the investigation necessary to ensure the patient is given the appropriate medication.
Grady said one of the things he was most shocked to learn from the report was the way inmates who are addicts are helped or treated, or the lack thereof.
"I find it troubling that they don't have a detox program in place already,” Grady said. “The opioid crisis has been going on for, you know, a decade or more, before that, it was methamphetamines. I mean, detox is nothing new."
Fatoki said plans to establish a detoxing program are in the works but, for Outagamie County, he said it is up to the sheriff's department.
As for how the county plans on resolving these ongoing issues? Grady said this matter will be left on the agenda and Sheriff Brad Ghering will have the opportunity to address the concerns at the next meeting.
He also said it's not fair to hand the new upcoming sheriff this matter, so they need a solution soon.