DepCor no longer has physician on contract - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DepCor no longer has physician on contract

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 Under order to provide adequate medical, dental and mental healthcare to detainees and inmates, the Department of Corrections - as we reported doesn't have a full-time psychologist on contract - and as of today terminated their doctor on contract.

Whenever an inmate or detainee needs medical care, it's been Dr. Raja Saad, who has been the attending physician. He's been under contract with the agency for several years - that is until today, when he was escorted out of the Mangilao compound.

DepCor deputy director Carla Borja said, "Unfortunately, Dr. Saad has a restricted medical license that restricts his practicing of medicine just to this facility so in order to meet the stipulations of the court we have to get an unrestricted licensed physician to care for our inmates and detainees." His sudden removal now leaves DepCor without a doctor on contract.

Borja says, however, they've called in backup, explaining, "The Guam Memorial Hospital has extended their services to us past the pharmaceutical memorandum that we've had with them and they have allowed for hospitalists and doctors from the Guam Memorial Hospital to be detailed to the Department of Corrections."

Dr. Saad's sudden removal comes as DepCor over the past year has been under court order to meet a myriad of deadlines to demonstrate efforts and ultimately provide adequate medical, mental, and dental care to its more than 700 inmates and detainees. Ironically, although Dr. Saad's been there to help formulate their strategy, DepCor has just now suddenly discovered issues with his license. "I think that in our working group meetings with all of the agencies that have been working really closely with the Department of Corrections it's been coming up time and time again that we are going to have a problem if the doctor is restricted in the medical license that we have. I am not sure how aware he was but it was something that needed to done in order for us to meet the stipulated order of the District Court," Borja commented.

Dr. Saad you may remember was vocal about the medical issues at DepCor. During a hearing in District Court last year, he told the judge it was a daily struggle to meet  minimal healthcare standards...on the stand Dr. Saad admitted to being apprehensive to speak up fearing he would be "marked" by his superiors.  Director Jose San Agustin said in response at the time, "No, there is no one marked here. I will love to continue to employ them but they need to be under my terms. They need to follow my directions."

So was Dr. Saad not following orders?  KUAM News tried to get his comment, but we were referred to his attorney, Pat Civille, who issued a statement: "DOC knew when it hired Dr. Saad that he had a restricted license in fact it helped Dr. Saad obtain that license...DOC recruited Dr. Saad because it could not find a locally licensed physician to serve full time at DOC.  Dr. Saad was the first physician to work full time at DOC, meaning he worked at the prison from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and was available on call at nights. The inmate population has increased dramatically in recent years and Dr. Saad has greatly improved the quality of medical care provided to inmates, although the lack of adequate equipment, supplies and staff means that the level of care is still below where it needs to be...Up until now, doctors from GMH have not been stationed at DOC, and GMH has been reluctant to accept inmates transported to the hospital. " 

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