Healthcare professionals in Florida are committed to providing quality healthcare services to our citizens. These services could include communicable disease control at one of our 67 health departments, specialty services for children with special needs at one of our Children’s Medical Services, or in-hospital care at one of our state hospitals. Whatever the site, the care is provided based on our mission — to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida.
Up until 2013, this care involved providing health services to nearly 100,000 inmates in our state prisons. Florida’s history with privatized prison health services has not been a positive one. The negative press relating to Corizon and Wexford led the current Department of Corrections secretary to announce her intention to rebid the prison health contracts in February. Because of Corizon’s recent decision to leave Florida, we are now faced with an uncertain future for prison health services.
Healthcare in our prisons cannot be motivated by a profit margin — rather it must be motivated and organized based on the needs identified by the institution, as it was previously under the Department of Corrections.
The Professional Health Care Bargaining Unit of the Florida Nurses Association asks that Secretary Julie Jones work with the Department of Corrections and the Office of Health Services to return the health services of the inmates to the care of the state and its professional health care employees.
As the state has done previously, current Corizon employees could be brought back into the state system and the state would still retain the right to accept or reject the employee based on their qualifications and past work history. The Florida Nurses Association would work with the state in re-establishing these positions and to support the transition.
Deborah Hogan, president, Professional Health Care Bargaining Unit, Florida Nurses Association, Orlando