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Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

Senate investigates Irwin County Detention Center, confirming claims of medical abuse

The ICE facility neglected immigrant women’s health and allowed the abuse to continue until the Senate intervened

An 18-month investigation has confirmed the claims of immigrant women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center against Dr Mahendra Amin, the OB-GYN contracted to oversee the gynaecological health of the people detained at the facility.

The allegations against Dr Mahendra Amin

Advocacy organization Project South and other institutions first submitted a complaint asking authorities to investigate the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) with the help of Dawn Wooten, a nurse who had been previously employed there. Wooten claimed that mass hysteroctomies were being performed without women’s consent and sometimes without their knowledge. Althouth the Committee overseeing the investigation offered no corroboration of Wooten’s claim, they did assess that the women detained at the facility were being subjected to gynecological procedures that were “excessive, invasive and often unnecessary”.

This is not the first time that Dr Mahendra Amin had claims filed against him. Admin was sued in 2013 by the State of Georgia together with the Department of Justice. He was accused of committing Medicaid fraud by ordering medical procedures that were deemed unnecessary and excessive. The lawsuit ended with a settlement in 2015 in which Amin admitted no guilt. He and his co-defendants had to pay a sum of $520,000 in settlement.

Other allegations of medical abuse were made against Amin by former patients in rural Georgia, all of which were low-income women. Some of the claims are decades-old.

The results of the investigation

As we previously stated, the Senate was able to confirm that the women detained at the ICDC were being subjected to systematic medical abuse and neglect. They underwent unnecessary and non-consensual surgeries, received insufficient care, or were denied the treatment that they needed, according to the 108-page report.

The investigation also brough to light the lack of oversight in the facility’s selection process of their medical personnel. The Senate contacted Dr. Peter Cherouny, an OB-GYN who had worked for other federal agencies, to review Amin’s treatment of his patients at the facility. Cherouny concluded that Amin’s practices were woefully outdated and did not meet current standards of care.

DHS is also under scrutiny, as the agency knew that the medical care provided to detainees at the ICDC was deficient, and yet no actions were taken by either ICE or the private prison company in charge of the facility, La Salle Corrections, to address the issue.

ICE and the deportation of victims

At the Senate hearing, the assistant director of ICE’s Health Service Corps, Stewart Smith, stated that his agency had not been made aware of the situation at the Irwin County Detention Center, a claim that Project’s South legal director, Azadeh Shahshahani, has deemed to be false.

After Project South filed the complaint and the case gained traction, ICE started deporting victims and witnesses before the case reached the courts. Congress had to intervene and order the agency to stop the deportations, but the damage had already been done.

What’s next for this case

Dr Mahendra Amin is being investigated by several federal agencies, among them the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The agency is investigating allegations made against Amin by former patients related to medical abuse and neglect.

Despite the severity of the findings, Amin continues to provide gynecological health services in Georgia, as his medical license is still active.

Project South has deemed the investigation a step in the right direction, but feels that there’s yet a lot to be done to bring justice to the victims.

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