Today we feature a continuing story by Civil Beat on Valley Fever. It is so important that people know what is going on since this administration just extended the Corrections Corporation of America contract.
Since we are knowingly sending our people into harmʻs way and the state is liable for the care of people in its custody (even if they try to abrogate their responsibility to CCA), the state must address the health needs of our people returning from Arizona.
Furthermore, the state must do a way better job of monitoring CCA operations and the health care and other contracted services this VENDOR supposedly provides.
The other important aspect to this issue is the stateʻs responsibility to its citizens. Many people returning from Arizona have maxed out (served their maximum sentence) and come directly into the community. A doctor contacted Kat and said:
Of note (and perhaps relevance), the AZ prisons only kept the “healthy” inmates and sent those that were ill back to Hawaii. So we may have received undiagnosed Valley Fever. It would be good practice to start testing patients who meet the criteria upon their return from AZ.
The state now knows that their secret is out. As the doctor cited above recommended, the state should test people who meet the criteria to ensure that they are not releasing infected people into the community without proper treatment.
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!
Now the department is in a pickle for not being forthcoming. We don’t yet know how many people in Hawai`i were or are infected as rumors have been circulating about valley fever for at least 10 years. The department’s inaction puts the community’s health at risk. Shameful!
Arizona Prison Is Not Reporting Disease Cases To Health Agency
There’s no record that Corrections Corporation of America ever told a county health agency about valley fever cases for Hawaii prisoners.
Rui Kaneya, Civil Beat, Aug. 3, 2016
August 3, 2016 · By Rui Kaneya
Excerpt: “In an apparent violation of Arizona regulations, Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit prison company in the country, is failing to report the cases of valley fever among Hawaii inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center.”
Valley Fever Risk Won’t Slow Flow Of Hawaii Inmates To Arizona
Hawaii may soon face legal claims over prisoners infected with valley fever, a disease endemic in the Southwest.
Rui Kaneya, Civil Beat, July 22, 2016
“Wayne Hunt is worried. For months, he’s been battling lingering flu-like symptoms. He is constantly short of breath. He feels weak, exhausted. He’s even coughing up blood.
“Hunt knows exactly what’s ailing him: valley fever, an insidious airborne fungal disease he picked up at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona prison where he is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.
“For a long stretch, Hunt has tried to work through the system to get a transfer back to Hawaii, where he believes he’ll get better care.
“But now, still stuck in Saguaro, Hunt is exploring legal action to force his transfer.
“And Hunt is not alone.
Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit, on behalf of Hunt and other prisoners, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the return of all Hawaii prisoners from Saguaro.”
A Deadly Dust Is Plaguing Hawaii Prisoners In AZ
Valley fever is widespread in the Southwest, yet Hawaii prison officials haven’t paid much attention to it, despite the recent deaths of at least two prisoners who had the disease.
Rui Kaneya, Civil Beat, June 27, 2016
“In Arizona, valley fever is rampant across the Sonoran Desert, which covers a wide swath of the state — including its two biggest cities, Phoenix and Tucson. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5,600 Arizona residents got infected in 2014, accounting for more than two-thirds of the reported cases nationwide.”