Judge orders jail staff to provide health care for inmate

A Broward jail inmate suffering from cancer and hepatitis C was in court Monday, telling a Broward judge that he still hasn’t received the medical treatment that was ordered for him a month ago.

Timothy Ogris, 50, told Broward Circuit Judge Mark Speiser he would cooperate with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Armor Correctional Health Services, the Miami company with a contract to handle inmate health care, to get to a doctor for treatment.

Speiser had already issued a written order requiring the Sheriff’s Office and Armor to provide the services last month, warning that if they “refuse to do so, they shall within 72 hours of the entry of this order provide the court, in writing, the reasons why they refuse to provide said treatment.”

The order was signed July 10. By the end of the month, Orgis was still complaining that he had not received treatment, said his lawyer, Greg Ross.

A Sun Sentinel investigation last year found that Armor has left severely mentally ill inmates unmedicated and malnourished despite having the authority to help them. A review of thousands of pages of court, medical and jail records also showed that seven Broward inmates since 2010 killed themselves or suffered dramatic weight loss while they were held alone in cells, despite longstanding concerns about the impact of isolation on people with mental illnesses.

The company was then accused in a 2016 lawsuit of neglecting inmate health to protect its profits. The company is paid $25 million annually and is required to pay up to $50,000 for an inmate’s care outside the jail’s facilities. The lawsuit accused the company of refusing to send inmates for required treatment resulting in at least six deaths.

The lawsuit is pending, and Armor has indicated it will “aggressively” defend itself against the allegations, a spokeswoman said in December.

Speiser called attorneys for Armor and the Sheriff’s Office to his courtroom Monday to address Ogris’ claims, implicitly threatening to hold the agencies in contempt. But the judge said Monday that he has no desire to resort to a contempt ruling.

“I’m not here to ‘get’ BSO or Armor,” the judge said. “I’m here to make sure Mr. Ogris gets the treatment he needs.”

The hearing ended with Armor vowing to demonstrate that the patient is receiving treatment.

“Armor’s patient is receiving the appropriate level of care,” said spokeswoman Yeleny Suarez. “The company cannot discuss specific health care matters unless the patient wants to sign a release of information.”

The next hearing on the issue is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Ogris was arrested in December 2014, accused of breaking into the laundry room of an apartment building to steal money from a coin operated machine. Because he had multiple previous felony convictions, he is facing a sentence of up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted, his lawyer said.

rolmeda@SunSentinel.com, 954-356-4457, Twitter @SSCourts and @rolmeda

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