Inmate deaths and medical care shortages reported in Rikers Island prison chaos

Media is reporting what some have called an “absolute humanitarian crisis” at the Rikers Island prison complex near New York. Also: food contamination in Houston markets, recovery from Louisiana hospitals, female genital mutilation, police shooting during a mental health crisis, and more.

AP: New York’s Rikers Island prison turns into chaos amid pandemic

A wave of inmate deaths. Unattended cell blocks. Staggering staff shortages caused by AWOL guards. Detainees deprived of food and medical care. New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison complex, troubled by years of neglect, has descended into turmoil during the coronavirus pandemic. It is not only prisoners and defenders who say this. City officials, including the mayor, admit there are serious problems. A prison watchdog called it “a complete breakdown in the functioning of prisons”. “In our office’s 50 years of policing the city’s jails, this is one of the most dangerous times we’ve seen,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas, attorney and director of the Children’s Rights Project. prisoners at the Legal Aid Society. (Sisak, 09/16)

CBS News: Cockroaches, rotten food and garbage: Lawmakers say Rikers Island conditions a ‘public health issue’

New York state lawmakers are calling for greater criminal justice reform amid an “absolute humanitarian crisis” at the Rikers Island prison complex. The ten facilities in the East River near New York are set to close by 2027, ending some of its longstanding issues of abuse and neglect. . “The place is in a state of emergency, and we need to act now,” New York State Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas told Lana Zak on Thursday. “You have to work to decarcerate. While touring facilities on the island, González-Rojas said he saw trash spitting on the floor, cockroaches and rotting food. She said inmates were crammed on top of each other and some had no access to showers or clothing. She added that she had stepped in urine and even witnessed a suicide attempt in prison. (Powell, 9/17)

In the news from Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Alaska —

Houston Chronicle: Higher Rates of Food Contamination Found in Markets in Low-Income Areas of Houston, Researchers Say

Knowing that people living in low-income neighborhoods often suffer from higher rates of foodborne or gastrointestinal illnesses, researchers at the University of Houston decided to analyze the products that Houstonians consume. What they found: Romaine lettuce in bulk purchased from supermarkets in low-income Houston communities was contaminated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms, fecal contaminants, and pathogens than lettuce purchased from high-income communities in the city. (Britto, 9/16)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: After Ida, Louisiana hospitals are operational, but fallout from storm and delta surge lingers

Most of the state’s largest hospitals resumed full operations after Hurricane Ida, but surgeries and appointments remain stalled, smaller hospitals in coastal areas are still partially closed, and many staff are still living in hotel rooms, Louisiana hospital officials said Thursday. Ochsner Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider with 40 hospitals across the state, delayed 80,000 appointments due to the storm alone, according to Mike Hulefeld, chief operating officer. The hospital system has rescheduled about half of those missed appointments and is in the process of rescheduling up to 6,000 surgeries. (Woodruff, 9/16)

Detroit Free Press: Feds: Female Genital Mutilation Case Involved Secret Doctors Network

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville may be the only doctor on trial for performing female genital mutilation on underage girls in the United States, but she was not the only doctor to circumcise children, federal prosecutors revealed Thursday . Instead, they said, Nagarwala was part of a secret network of doctors from a close-knit Indian community who cut 7-year-old girls across the country for years as part of a religious obligation and of a cultural tradition that made mothers and daughters travel. everywhere for the procedure. (Baldas, 09/16)

The Oregonian: Oregon Department of Justice grand jury finds Tigard police officer justified in shooting man in mental health crisis

A grand jury convened by the Oregon attorney general found that a Tigard police officer was justified in shooting a man with a mental health crisis in January. The state Department of Justice announced the findings Thursday. The grand jury, which met for a total of eight hours over two days, delivered its decision on Wednesday evening. Gabriel Maldonado, then a Tigard police officer, shot 26-year-old Jacob Macduff on January 6 after responding to what police said were domestic abuse allegations. (Crombie, 9/16)

Anchorage Daily News: Cyberattackers gained access to personal data of most Alaskans, National Health Agency says

A cyberattack in May on the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services could have exposed the personal and health information of most Alaskans to attackers, the department said Thursday. “It’s fair to say that any Alaskan could have been compromised by this,” Health and Human Services Commissioner Adam Crum said. Given the scale of the attack, “we cannot be assured that there is a remote likelihood that protected health information has been compromised, and therefore, pursuant to (federal law), we are notifying Alaskans that their health or personal information may have been compromised,” the department said. said in a written statement. (Brooks, 9/16)

In the California news —

AP: covered California director to resign in February

The Covered California director said Thursday he would step down early next year, prompting a nationwide search for a new leader in the nation’s largest state-based health insurance marketplace. Peter Lee served as Covered California’s only executive director in its nine-year history, launching the market in 2012 at a time when the Affordable Care Act was a polarizing force in American politics. (Beam, 9/16)

KHN: California Muscular Obamacare Exchange Leader Resigns

Peter Lee, who has led California’s Affordable Care Law market since late 2011 and helped make it a model of what federal health care law could achieve, announced Thursday that he will be leaving his position. post in March. As executive director of Covered California, Lee worked closely with the administrations of Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden to extend health coverage to millions of people who do not get it through an employer or from a government program, mostly income-assisted. state or federal based financial aid. More than 1.6 million people are now signed up for plans through the exchange, which has covered 5.3 million Californians since it began selling health plans. (Wolfson and Hart, 9/16)

Los Angeles Times: Residents moved by LAPD fireworks explosion request names

Following the release of a federal report into a massive fireworks explosion that destroyed part of a South Los Angeles neighborhood, residents on Thursday called for mental health services and the names of Los Angeles police officers. Angeles involved. More than a dozen people gathered on East 27th Street, holding signs reading “lies”, “unfixed” and “justice for our community”. In June, the LAPD damaged the block while trying to safely detonate a cache of illegal fireworks. (Mejia, 09/16)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.