City Ends Contract for Prison Health

After fifteen years of contracting out for prison health, New York City is bringing the services back in-house. On June 9, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would end the city’s contract with for-profit Corizon Health Inc. (formerly Prison Health Services) when it expires in December and directed the Health and Hospitals Corporation to take over medical services at Rikers Island.

The announcement came in the wake of a report from the city’s Department of Investigation that found Corizon had hired employees with disciplinary problems and criminal convictions in some instances. It also cited missteps by Corizon employees that may have contributed to at least two recent inmate deaths. These were on top of numerous other serious patient care incidents during the course of Corizon’s tenure with the city.

Dr. Robert Cohen, who was a medical director at Rikers in the 1980s, and is now on the New York City Board of Correction, told The New York Times he hoped HHC, “would be more independent and view its responsibilities to the patient as paramount; that could have a dramatic effect on patient care.”

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