A Georgia immigration prison performed questionable hysterectomies, refused to test inmates for COVID-19, and destroyed medical records, according to a nurse quoted in a complaint filed Monday.
The complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog is based on reports from Dawn Wooten, who was a full-time licensed practical nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed.
Wooten calls a gynecologist who works outside of the facility “the uterus collector”.
“Everyone he sees has a hysterectomy ̵
It was not clear to Wooten whether women knowingly consented to the operations. The nurses raised concerns about the unnamed doctor.
“These migrant women, I don’t think they really understand that this will happen, depending on who explains it to them,” she is quoted as saying.
The facility in Ocilla, about 200 miles south of Atlanta, houses men and women incarcerated for US immigration and customs, as well as inmates from the US Marshal Service and Irwin County.
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ICE said it was not commenting on matters to the Inspector General, but was taking all allegations seriously.
“That is, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations made with no factually verifiable details should be treated with the reasonable skepticism they deserve,” the agency said in a statement.
While the Project South advocacy group’s 27-page complaint extensively cites unidentified inmates, it also includes detailed comments from Wooten. The complaint says that Wooten was downgraded after failing to work with coronavirus symptoms, which she believed was retaliation for answering questions about treating COVID-19.
Wooten said the number of inmates infected was much higher than advertised as there were no active tests and not all cases were reported according to the complaint.
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Wooten is quoted as saying that the nurse sometimes invented seeing inmates in person when they hadn’t, and that she saw the nurse tearing up a box of inmate complaints without looking at them. She said nurses ignored inmates who reported COVID-19 symptoms.
If inmates reported a fever, the nurses would treat them with an over-the-counter cold medication for seven days without testing them for COVID-19, she said.
The facility refused to use two COVID-19 rapid test machines that ICE bought for $ 14,000 each, according to Wooten. No medical personnel had been trained and she only saw the machines used once.
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LaSalle Corrections, the owner and operator of the Irwin County Detention Center under contract, did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.
According to the ICE, 42 inmates at the facility had tested positive for the virus by Sunday. Nationwide, 5,772 prisoners were positive.