Nurse ques­tions med­i­cal care at Ge­or­gia ICE jail


OCILLA, Ga. – An im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion cen­ter in Ge­or­gia per­formed ques­tion­able hys­terec­tomies, re­fused to test de­tainees for COVID-19 and shred­ded med­i­cal records, ac­cord­ing to a nurse quoted in a com­plaint filed Mon­day.

The com­plaint to the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s in­ter­nal watch­dog re­lies on ac­counts of Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time as a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse at the Ir­win County De­ten­tion Cen­ter un­til July, when she was de­moted to work as needed. Wooten calls a gy­ne­col­o­gist who works out­side the fa­cil­ity “the uterus col­lec­tor.”

“Ev­ery­body he sees has a hys­terec­tomy – just about ev­ery­body,” Wooten said. “He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady.”

It was un­clear to Wooten if women know­ingly con­sented to the op­er­a­tions. Nurses raised con­cerns about the doc­tor, who is un­named. “Th­ese im­mi­grant women, I don’t think they re­ally, to­tally, all the way un­der­stand this is what’s go­ing to hap­pen de­pend­ing on who ex­plains it to them,” she is quoted say­ing.

The fa­cil­ity, about 200 miles south of At­lanta, houses men and women de­tainees for U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment. ICE said it does not com­ment on mat­ters be­fore the in­spec­tor gen­eral but that it takes all al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously.

“That said, in gen­eral, anony­mous, un­proven al­le­ga­tions, made with­out any fact-check­able specifics, should be treated with the ap­pro­pri­ate skep­ti­cism they de­serve,” the agency said.

While the 27-page com­plaint filed by ad­vo­cacy group Project South quotes uniden­ti­fied de­tainees ex­ten­sively, it also in­cludes de­tailed com­ments from Wooten. The com­plaint says Wooten was de­moted af­ter miss­ing work with coro­n­avirus symp­toms, which she be­lieves was re­tal­i­a­tion for rais­ing ques­tions about ad­dress­ing COVID-19.

Wooten said the num­ber of de­tainees in­fected was much higher than re­ported be­cause there was no ac­tive test­ing and not all cases were re­ported, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

LaSalle Correction­s, which owns and op­er­ates Ir­win County De­ten­tion Cen­ter un­der con­tract, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment late Mon­day.

As of Sun­day, 42 de­tainees at the fa­cil­ity had tested pos­i­tive for the virus, ac­cord­ing to ICE. Na­tion­wide, 5,772 de­tainees were pos­i­tive.

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