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Too Little Security of Prisoners, say Some Employees at Clinics

Too Little Security of Prisoners, say Some Employees at Clinics



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Marc Giauque, KSL NewsRadioThe shooting at the University of Utah's Orthopaedics Center is raising concerns among some who work at the school's clinics and hospitals. Some tell us they've often felt there was too little security around inmates being treated for various ailments.

When news of the shooting reached Kim, she instantly thought of her daughter, who's been working at the main hospital for a few weeks. She had no idea at the time that the violence actually happened blocks away.

"They didn't hear of it until they brought it up on the Internet. Me being at work, I did bring it up on the Internet; therefore, I freaked," she told us.

But Kim also recalled conversations with her daughter about other prisoners.

"You would think that you would have more, I would say, guards coming up there with the prisoners."

Her daughter told her one story involving a woman needing surgery.

"There was quite a large woman that did come in there, and the guard that was with her couldn't have been no more than 105 pounds," she says.

Corrections Executive Director Tom Patterson on Monday said it's typical to have one guard and one patient.

Patterson said, "All that is subject to change, depending on the risk of an individual and the discretion of the department in assessing that risk."

But why only one guard for a man who'd tried to escape authorities in the past? Corrections isn't getting specific about that right now. But it's a question that Chris Nelson with the University Medical Center says is a fair one.

"I think it's the time right now to ask those questions and investigate it for changes," Nelson said. For now, the school has suspended appointments for other prisoners. Still, Nelson says the school last year treated 2,600 inmates with no problem, and that they feel they have a good relationship with corrections.

Nelson said, "We're not a prison system, we're not a jail, we're not law enforcement officials. And so, you know, we rely on the Department of Corrections, we rely on local law enforcement, but it helps in custody, they take the appropriate steps."

And there's another side. Nelson says some health care providers often don't want to know an inmate's criminal history, on the belief that anybody from a hospital donor to a prisoner should be given the same level of care.

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