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article imageICE detention center accused of doing 'mass hysterectomies'

By Karen Graham     Sep 15, 2020 in Politics
A whistle blower complaint was filed on Monday with the Office of the Inspector General, alleging an ICE detention Center in Georgia was performing "high rates" of hysterectomies. as well as not using COVID-19 safety precautions.
The complaint was filed on behalf of Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time as a licensed practical nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, which is run by the private corporation, LaSalle Corrections.
The complaint alleges “jarring medical neglect” and a lack of COVID-19 safety precautions, and describes reports of high rates of hysterectomies performed on Spanish-speaking immigrant women, many of whom did not appear to understand why they had undergone the procedure, reports The Guardian.
The hysterectomies are performed by a doctor who works outside the facility, doing surgeries on women who complained of heavy menstrual cycles. In many cases nurses obtained consent from patients by “simply googling Spanish”, the complaint alleges.
Wooten even went so far as to question the doctor. “Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody,” Wooten said. “Everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad,” she added, after referring to him as the “uterus collector.”
“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” one detainee said, according to the complaint.
LaSalle Corrections has previous complaints
Not only does the complaint alleged that LaSalle Corrections downplayed the coronavirus at the Irwin Center, but they purposely "under-reported" the number of cases they claimed they had,
Wooten described to The Intercept how she repeatedly complained to staff leadership before she was demoted in early July from working full time to an on-call position, where she was only offered a few hours a month — a move she charges was retaliation for speaking up and demanding stricter medical safety protocols.
Catahoula Correctional Center in Louisiana
Catahoula Correctional Center in Louisiana
LaSalle Corrections
Wooten’s account was bolstered by interviews with another current member of Irwin’s medical staff — who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation — and four people currently or recently detained there.
Priyanka Bhatt, a staff attorney with the legal advocacy group Project South told The Intercept, “Ms. Wooten’s whistle-blowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years — gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions.”
LaSalle, a for-profit detention company, runs 18 detention centers across the South, capable of holding over 13,000 people. As the coronavirus took hold across the southern states this summer, a pattern emerged of alleged abuses in LaSalle facilities.
In July, medical staff at the LaSalle-owned Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana submitted a letter to Congress detailing troubling allegations, including that management withheld personal protective equipment (PPEs) from both staff and detainees, and ignored positive Covid-19 test results and symptoms.
Asylum-seekers and detainees at LaSalle-run Winn Correctional Center, and River Correctional, another LaSalle-run detention center, also complained of neglect and a lack of proper medical care.
A spokesperson for LaSalle declined to comment, issuing a statement that reads: “LaSalle Corrections is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in our care. We are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments.” ICE also declined to comment.
More about US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Georgia detention center, Covid19, hysterectomies, Spanishspeaking immigrants
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