WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - The family of a former Washington County inmate who died while in custody has settled a $10 million lawsuit against the jail medical provider and the county.
Lawyers say Madaline Pitkin was denied medical attention for seven days after being detained at the Washington County Jail in 2014. Attorneys for the family say Madaline used heroin the night she was arrested and was suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Pitkin's parents say they tried to contact her in jail by writing her a letter, but they say it was never delivered.
Corizon Health is the nation's largest for-profit medical provider for prison and jails.
Washington County cut ties with Corizon Health shortly after Madaline's death.
At a news conference Friday morning, Madaline's father spoke out on why the suit was filed.
"What we wanted to accomplish with this lawsuit is to help make change. We wanted Washington county and Corizon to acknowledge that they were responsible for what happened and to make changes," said Russ Pitkin.
Washington County released a statement following the settlement, saying:
"The death of Madaline Pitkin was a tragedy, and our thoughts are with her family.
Since that incident, many changes have been implemented to how healthcare is provided to inmates at the Washington County Jail. Our current healthcare provider, NaphCare, has piloted a program in Washington County to provide medication that helps inmates who are detoxing from drugs. The success of that program has been replicated in a number of other jails, and has proven to be an effective way to treat those suffering from drug addiction. Washington County has also hired an experienced contract administrator to work full-time at the jail for the purpose of monitoring this healthcare contract and other contracts.
Our corrections staff remain dedicated to the safety and security of all individuals in custody."
Corizon Health CEO Steve Rector also responded to the settlement, saying:
"As our Offer of Judgement indicates, in 2014, our medical team at the Washington County Jail failed Madaline Pitkin and her family. The amount of this settlement is unprecedented for our company and reflects how far removed the facts of this case are from our standards and expectations of care. For whatever small comfort this may provide, the lessons we've learned from this case have been catalysts for significant changes we have made and are still making to our clinical program.
I was not at Corizon Health when Ms. Pitkin was our patient but am deeply disappointed in our performance at the time and feel tremendous sympathy for her parents and loved ones. The company was reorganized in 2017, and today we operate with a new leadership team and new Board that includes three independent directors. We are committed to ensuring our company supports our teams in providing the best possible care.
At Corizon Health, we have amazingly talented healthcare professionals who feel a sense of mission to care for those who are incarcerated. This case does not reflect the commitment and compassion that the vast majority of our staff bring to their jobs."
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