State regulators have issued a blistering report saying Armor Correctional Health, the private company hired to treat sick inmates in the Nassau County jail, has a pattern of failing to get patients to the hospital when they need help.
The report comes weeks after the I-Team interviewed jail insiders who also claimed medical neglect by the jail health provider. Those insiders said that alleged neglect was costing lives.
In the report, the state's Commission of Correction has accused Armor Correctional Health of being negligent, deficient and incompetent in the treatment of John Gleeson, a burglary suspect who died after a hereditary condition caused his neck to swell behind bars, constricting his air passage.
Regulators said Armor's failure to quickly get Gleeson to the hospital was "demonstrative of negligent medical care by Armor, Inc,"
The report also accused the private medical provider of a broader pattern of failure.
"The Medical Review Board found Armor Inc. . . . has engaged in a pattern of inadequate and neglectful medical care and questions their ability to meet and provide for the health care needs of jail inmates."
As part of the report, authors recommended the Nassau County Legislature conduct an inquiry into the "fitness" of Armor to continue as jail health provider.
Responding to the report's findings, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Armor's actions -- at least in the case of one deceased inmate -- are under review.
"While the County Legislature unanimously approved a two-year [Armor] contract extension in June 2015, the report raises concerning allegations and the matter has been referred to the County Attorney for review," wrote Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Mangano.
This isn't the first time the county has been warned of problems with Armor Correctional Health. Last month, the I-Team interviewed a former Armor nurse who said she's witnessed the company cut corners.
“Medications are being cut, supplies are being cut, positions are not being there," the former Armor nurse said. She said she recently left the company partly because of concerns the company’s policies could put her nursing license in jeopardy. "I don’t think there should be a price tag on anyone’s life."
She asked to remain anonymous for fear that speaking out could jeopardize her new job.
In May, she said Armor failed to order proper tests for an inmate complaining of chest pains.
"They didn’t do an EKG on him," the nurse said. "They put him back in his cell. And hour later, he was face down in his cell.”
That inmate was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
After the inmate's family members filed a notice of claim against Armor, the I-Team was able to confirm his identity, Tony Marinaccio, a 53-year-old man jailed for attacking a police officer when police responded to his home during a domestic dispute.
"Everybody's medical needs should be attended to properly," said Gloria Gazzola, Marinaccio’s sister.
Jason Starr, executive director of the Nassau County Chapter of the NYCLU, said inmates have long complained about Armor staff dismissing medical needs.
"It's a fair conclusion to draw that too many of these decisions are being made based on profit and not on care," Starr said.
Citing health privacy laws, Armor Correctional Health Services did not comment on individual inmates’ cases. But in a statement previously emailed to the I-Team, the company said it "has a proven record of delivering quality health care to more than 40,000 patient-inmates in eight states."
Armor says cost is never considered when providing inmate health care. The firm says inmates get their medication and treatment promptly. It also says jail health care providers are frequently the subject of unfounded allegations and legal actions.
The company stressed that no jury has ever found Armor guilty of medical malpractice, and said "health care providers in the corrections setting are subject to significant and frequently unfounded allegations.”
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Armor Correctional Health in the last five years, according to federal court records. The Marinaccio family is suing the health care company.