Behavioral health clinician files whistleblower suit over inmate care

A former behavioral health clinician filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging she was fired after reporting allegations that inmates at Westmoreland County Prison, based in Greensburg, Pa., received insufficient mental healthcare, according to an Aug. 28 report from Trib Live.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by Carla Rhodes, a licensed social worker and former behavioral health clinician employed by Harrisburg, Pa.-based PrimeCare Medical. Ms. Rhodes claimed PrimeCare fired her as retaliation for reporting concerns surrounding fraud, waste and insufficient medical care.

The claims state PrimeCare used "unlicensed mental health professionals to diagnose and prescribe treatment for inmates" in "sporadic remote meetings with patients." Additionally, Ms. Rhodes claimed these "improperly prescribed" medications resulted in at least one inmate experiencing an allergic reaction, according to the report.

One month before PrimeCare began providing services at the prison, it signed a $20.9 million deal with the county to improve the mental health of inmates. Bryan Kline, the warden at Westmoreland County Prison, said at an Aug. 28 public meeting of the county's prison board that "PrimeCare is doing a great job with the mental health treatment," and has lowered the number of inmates who are prescribed psychotropic medications from 400 to 49, according to the report.

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