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Maricopa County fighting ruling on jail health care

The Associated Press
LAW AND ORDER REPORT

The Associated Press

PHOENIX – Maricopa County officials are firing back at a Chicago-based organization that pulled the health accreditation status of the county’s jails.

Betty Adams, director of Correctional Health Services, sent a tersely worded letter denying the vague accusations that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care made in pulling accreditation from the jails.

Adams requested the agency rescind the withdrawal of accreditation. The jails remain accredited while the decision is under appeal.

Accreditation is state-mandated and helps the county defend itself against lawsuits by inmates.

Accreditation provides criteria that Correctional Health Services employees can use to guarantee they are providing quality care.

Adams said the letter was part of the formal appeal process but added that county administrators are troubled with the commission’s decision-making process.

“It doesn’t appear that NCCHC followed its own policy statements,” Adams said.

Adams said the accrediting organization has refused her requests for additional information on the issues that led to the decision, but she was told that information appeared in the commission’s mailbox with selected testimony from a federal lawsuit involving the jails.

Representatives from the commission have not responded to repeated requests by The Arizona Republic for comment.

County Manager David Smith said it appeared the organization made the decision based on sketchy information.

“This accreditation (decision), frankly, has to be explained to me and others,” Smith said. “It’s completely unjustified on the facts.”

In late September, the commission sent a letter to county administrators informing them that jail accreditation was being denied, but offered few details. The commission appeared to rely on testimony from an ongoing lawsuit between a former inmate and Sheriff Joe Arpaio as justification for the denial.

The letter alleges that Correctional Health Services employees provided false or misleading information that allowed the agency to give the county’s jails full accreditation.

Adams denies that allegation in her letter and takes the agency to task for relying on anonymous information in making the decision.

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