> Published Monday, November 8, 1999, in the Miami Herald
> Krome clinic's dubious prize
> The national organization that accredits health-care
> facilities in jails and prisons will present an award
> today to the medical clinic at the Krome Avenue
> immigration detention center.
> No, this is not a joke. And, no, the trophy is not
> engraved ``The Dungeon Prize.''
> This group, the National Commission on Correctional
> Health Care, has declared the Krome clinic to be the best
> such facility in the nation. The private, nonprofit
> organization, which sets standards for prison clinics,
> hails Krome's infirmary as the 1999 Facility of the Year.
> If this group's assessment is true, then the government
> needs to declare a state of emergency for all of those
> patients held in such U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
> Service facilities.
> The Krome clinic is a virtual house of horrors -- and the
> horror stories are well documented, as is the body count.
> Not only is the outdated facility unsanitary and grossly
> inadequate, it has drawn national attention as a
> roach-infested relic that miserably fails its neediest
> One alarming case involved a paralyzed detainee named
> Ashley Anderson, a Jamaican immigrant who suffered from
> diabetes and severe bedsores on his legs and backside.
> The clinic gave him a wheelchair that was uncomfortably
> small, a crank-operated bed that forced him to wait hours
> in pain for assistance. His unanswered cries kept fellow
> patients awake at night.
> ULTIMATELY DIED
> Human rights advocates suspected the inhumane treatment
> may have led to Anderson's death last year.
> There have also been several incidents in which
> psychiatric patients have assaulted and terrorized
> detainees and staff.
> In May, a mentally ill inmate hit another detainee in the
> head with a rock, seriously injuring the man. A month
> earlier, another violent inmate kicked a staff
> psychologist in the groin and punched a fellow patient.
> The attacker had a record for murder by decapitation and
> The 15-year-old facility, once praised as a model clinic,
> is run by the Public Health Service, a branch of the U.S.
> Department of Health and Human Services. Understaffed and
> overbooked, its reputation plummeted as conditions
> dramatically deteriorated.
> The patient load swelled when harsh new immigration laws
> forced the detention of increasing numbers of immigrants.
> The population of those suffering from complicated
> medical conditions and needs proved overwhelming at
> FACILITY CRITIC
> ``If this is the best clinic there is, then God help INS
> detainees everyplace else,'' says immigration lawyer
> Cheryl Little, whose group, the Florida Immigrant
> Advocacy Center, has decried conditions at the clinic.
> Tempering the national award with a dose of reality, FIAC
> plans to release a critical report on the clinic this
> ``Krome employees, detainees and immigration advocates
> charge that the neglect of sick and disabled detainees
> and of detainees in serious need of medical attention and
> supervision has resulted in death, physical injury of
> staff and detainees and declining health conditions,''
> the report concludes.
> Adds Little: ``One PHS employee I talked to told me,
> `This place reminds me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
> Nest. If I was a patient here, I'd be very, very
> One ward, PHS 4, a 15-bed dorm that housed patients with
> special medical needs, was shut down in April and its
> patients were transferred to another ward, PHS 1, Little
> ``They had said they were going to build a new complex
> and bring all of PHS to another building and bring it up
> to date,'' she said. ``But I haven't seen any evidence of
> Apparently, none of the above mattered to the prize
> McReynolds 2000 Committee
> "Building a Movement for Jobs, Peace and Freedom"
> P.O. Box 91, Floral Park, NY 10012