Health Care

California’s top prison medical executive replaced amid coronavirus outbreak

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Coronavirus vaccine will likely come in early 2021: Dr. Nicole Saphier

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California officials on Monday announced the replacement of the prison system’s statewide medical executive amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak among inmates in the Bay Area.

San Quentin, California’s oldest prison, had been free of coronavirus cases until, in late May, a busload of 121 prisoners were transferred from California Institution for Men in Chino to alleviate a virus outbreak there.

Prison officials had not tested the inmates for COVID-19 within two weeks of the transfer, but reports now say more than one-third of San Quentin’s prison population is infected.

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“They should not have been transferred,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a public address, according to the LA Times. He added that handling the prison outbreak “remains a top priority for our administration.”

Newsom said he hopes efforts can “responsibly” move prisoners out, reducing the population count by nearly 1,000 prisoners in the upcoming weeks, the Times added.

The measures involve expediting qualifying inmates’ release to parole or probation. Those with high-risk medical conditions were also considered for expedited release.

In an update posted on Monday, officials announced three more COVID-19 related deaths among inmates at San Quentin, raising the total death toll to six. There are now 1,381 infected inmates at San Quentin and 2,356 infections among inmates statewide.

California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) announced the leadership change on July 6. Dr. R. Steven Tharratt was formerly the director of health care operations and statewide medical director, which he held since 2010, CCHCS confirmed to Fox News. Going forward, Tharratt will serve as special advisor to the receiver, providing “strategic guidance on all health care matters,” according to the announcement.

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CCHCS added that Vince Cullen’s role of director of corrections services has expanded to director of health care operations and corrections services. Also, Dr. Joseph Bick will serve as director of health care services for medical, mental health and dental services, and he also serves as the COVID-19 response lead for health care.

“We are in unprecedented times as we deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said J. Clark Kelso, receiver. “In order to meet current response needs while also working toward further delegation of medical care back to state control, it has become evident that a reorganization is necessary for long-term sustainability.”

Given the worsening outbreak at San Quentin, officials are concerned about the prison’s impact on nearby hospitals in the coming weeks. As of Monday, officials reported 91 prisoners receiving medical care at outside health facilities across the state.

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Article source: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/health/~3/B2edhcE32zY/california-top-prison-medical-executive-ousted-amid-coronavirus-outbreak

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