(Pittsburgh) Dec. 8, 2015 While Allegheny County eventually heeded the calls of
County Controller Chelsa Wagner and many advocates and ended its contract with former
County Jail health care provider Corizon Health, Inc., Corizon’s deficiencies and inadequate monitoring
of its work by Jail officials continued for months after a Controller’s office audit made recommendations
for improvement last December, a follow-up review shows.
The review surveyed the period of January through May 2015, after Corizon and the County
had received the findings and recommendations of the Controller’s audit and before the
County announced it would sever ties with Corizon in September.
“We now have proof that Corizon did not take corrective action or improve,” Wagner said. “But this audit also
shows that County and Jail officials failed to ensure that the deficiencies identified in our audit were corrected.
Once shortcomings were recognized, they should never have been left to linger.”
“Although organizational changes have been made removing Corizon in favor of Allegheny Health Network
and bringing many responsibilities in-house, there will be no guarantees of improvement without
sufficient monitoring and accountability of Jail health care. This is not purely a medical issue, it is a
management issue. The responsibility for providing quality care ultimately rests with the County,
a duty it absolutely must fulfill,” Wagner said.
The follow-up audit showed that 13 of 14 recommendations of the Controller’s initial audit were not resolved
during the period of the follow-up review, with just one being partially mitigated.
Among the 13 deficiencies included inadequate staffing levels, with staffing below minimum required levels
being observed on seven of nine days included in the review. Other critical areas cited in the initial audit
that did not see any improvement were clinical and mental health care and provision of re-entry services.
“There remain troubling humanitarian concerns about the level of care provided at the Jail,
but this is also a matter of public health and safety that impacts the entire community,” Wagner said.
“If inmates are released without proper mental health treatment or without stable re-entry, the risk of crime
is much greater. It’s the County’s responsibility to see that these services are being adequately provided.
Until we have proof that these issues have been corrected, this remains an open issue.”
While the Jail retained an outside contractor and hired a new employee to monitor Corizon’s
compliance with the terms of its contract, the County could not provide any monitoring documents
or reports produced by them during the period of the review. The County had initially cooperated
with the follow-up audit but then reneged, citing the pending litigation with former inmates
as their reason for not providing responses.
Wagner said she plans to utilize her office’s team of certified auditors to conduct a performance audit
of the new health care arrangement at the Jail now that the Controller’s ability to fully assess the
operations of County departments has been affirmed by a judge.
“My office has the ability to apply the highest professional auditing standards to determine if
the County is carrying out this vital function both adequately and efficiently. The need for this
type of independent oversight of Jail health care is abundantly clear, as our reviews have shown
that cost and quality controls have been severely lacking,” Wagner said.
“The biggest take away from this audit is that there remain major ongoing concerns with jail health care.
I and my office will continue to monitor this situation until we have confirmation that all issues have been corrected.”
The full audit report can be viewed here
Lou Takacs, Communications Specialist