The group’s Committee on Correctional Medicine awarded its inaugural “Herman E. Spivey, M.D. Award for Excellence” to the sheriff’s department for the system it incorporated in 2012 at its old jail in downtown Douglasville before moving to a new jail facility near I-20 earlier this year.
Committee chairman Dr. Patton Smith of Forsyth noted the old jail formerly was accredited but the department had stopped seeking the designation as part of budget cuts.
“When we went back in 2012, we could not turn up a single thing that was wrong,” Smith said.
The medical association was founded in 1849 and is a leading advocate for physicians in the state, the group stated in a press release. Its correctional medicine committee surveys the health section of all state prisons, and some privately-operated prisons and county jails every three years.
The award was established in 2012 in memory of a longtime Summerville family medicine practitioner who was the physician for the Chattooga County Jail and a longtime committee member.
Douglas County’s award followed the 2009 death of a Carrollton man from renal failure while he was an inmate in the old jail. The inmate’s family filed lawsuits against Douglas County and a jail physician, alleging his negligence in the case. The family settled its suit against the county in 2011 and the physician last month, according to an area newspaper.
Douglas County subsequently hired the private firm CorrectHealth to administer health care at the jail, and was reaccredited.
Sheriff Phil Miller accepted the award and called it a “great honor and very proud day for himself, the sheriff’s department and the citizens of Douglas County.”
He said its medical department formerly “left a lot to be desired” before the 2009 death. Miller later eliminated all jail health care positions and hired CorrectHealth.
Miller and Smith said they applauded CorrectHealth’s “professionalism in difficult circumstances.” The firm was represented by president Dr. Carlo Musso and registered nurses Deborah Eason and Susie Hatfield at the recent award ceremony.
Smith said the medical association accredits facilities using standards developed by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. To be accredited, a jail must meet 100 percent of 33 “essential” standards and at least 85 percent of 29 “important” standards. “Essential” standards primarily deal with the health care of the inmate, including proper credentialing of the staff. “Important” standards deal with how the clinic functions, Smith said.
Miller said the medical association panel “audited us and found we met the standards they set.”
“In my mind, that shows we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.
He said inmates need proper medical care like any other member of society.
“It shouldn’t be ‘carte blanche,’ but they should be taken care of,” Miller said.