US Marijuana Party

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Donaldson health care administrator fired

Birmingham News

AL - The administrator over health care at Donaldson Correctional Facility was fired for failing to improve medical care at the beleaguered lockup, but not before issuing repeated warnings about inadequate staff.

Stephanie Lawson, a registered nurse employed by the private contractor Prison Health Services, said she was especially frustrated that no full-time physician was assigned to the western Jefferson County prison, which houses about 1,625 men.

"I was terminated for lack of progress at the site, and it's an impossible site to manage with the staff that PHS has allocated for health care," Lawson said. "It's just wrong."

Lawson, 36, was fired the first week in March, the same week Donaldson Warden Stephen Bullard was placed on administrative leave after writing a memo about inadequate staffing and poor conditions. Department of Corrections officials have said Bullard was placed on leave because of his own complaints about the stress and health problems associated with his job.

Lawson's staffing complaints are similar to those raised by Dr. Valda Chijide, the former HIV doctor at Limestone Prison. Chijide resigned earlier this year after sending PHS several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the north Alabama prison.

Lawson's firing leaves Donaldson minus experienced staff in the two top posts, overseeing the prison and the health care unit.

Considered by many people in the Department of Corrections to be the toughest prison in the state, Donaldson houses mentally ill inmates and men on Death Row. It is so crowded the sewage system is overloaded.

The corrections department has temporarily transferred Warden Terry McDonnell from Kilby Correctional Facility to Donaldson.


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