DOJ settles with Va jail over medical care issues

FARMVILLE, Va. (AP) — The Justice Department says it has reached a settlement to ensure prisoners at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville receive appropriate medical and mental health care.

Officials say the department launched an investigation in March 2011 into allegations that the jail was not providing prisoners with constitutionally adequate medical care.

The department says its investigation found “deficiencies in medical and mental health care at the jail exposed prisoners to an unreasonable risk of serious harm.” Among the findings were inadequate staffing, insufficient procedures to screen and assess medical and mental health problems, and the absence of a chronic care program to treat conditions such as seizures, heart diseases and high blood pressure, the department said.

The agreement announced Friday requires the jail to employ adequate medical and mental health personnel, perform timely screening and appropriate health assessments and establish a chronic care program, among other things.

Jail officials also must track the performance of medical and mental health improvement efforts. It also must work with an independent monitor to implement the changes described in the agreement and to evaluate the jail’s success in “effecting meaningful reform.”

Piedmont Regional Jail is a minimum to high-security facility that serves Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties. It houses more than 700 male and female inmates.

Officials with the jail did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on Saturday.

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