Move to privatize Pa. prison nursing services fails

    Critics of a plan by Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections to outsource the work of its nurses to private companies are breathing a sigh of relief.

    Pennsylvania’s state prisons already contract with private companies for certain medical, psychiatric, and pharmaceutical services.

    But the state’s biggest health care workers union is rejoicing over news that nurses won’t be added to that list.

    The training prison nurses receive makes them better equipped than private contractors to deal with prison inmates, says Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntington, an outspoken opponent of the move to privatize..

    He remembers a story of one nurse who had to intercept a back brace sent by a doctor to an incarcerated patient.

    “She literally could take four steel rods out of it and really dismantle the thing and you had some superior weaponry there,” he said of the inmate.

    Gov. Tom Corbett announced last summer he would look into privatizing prison health care as a way to cut costs. Similar privatization plans have been floated by past administrations.

    Fleck says he’d still like to pass a bill to completely prevent such privatization moves.

     

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