Medical Prison Warden Reassigned

ATLANTA — The warden at a troubled medical prison in Georgia has been reassigned to his previous job.

Warden Scott Wilkes is being moved from the Augusta State Medical Prison to the Augusta Transitional Center, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution . He was promoted from the transitional center to the medical prison in July 2016.

Wilkes’ replacement will be Ted Philbin, who was the warden at Autry State Prison in Pelham before recently being put in charge of plans for opening the Metro Reentry Prison, Heath said.

Augusta State Medical Prison, the flagship of Georgia’s state prison health care system, includes both a 55-bed hospital and a close security prison that can house more than 1,300 men. Responsibility for the 34-year-old facility is essentially shared by the Department of Corrections and Georgia Correctional HealthCare, the branch of Augusta University contracted by the GDC to provide medical services.

The newspaper had reported previously that the medical prison’s operating room and other areas were in disrepair, creating a breeding ground for infection.

It said photos, emails and other documents showed bags of trash left outside the operating room for months, drawing flies and mosquitoes; black mold growing on ceilings where leaks had gone unrepaired for years; a dirty, water-damaged sink near the operating room and air vents coated with dust and debris.

In addition, it said, letters and emails from two inmates described broken showers and toilets in the crowded dormitories for surgical recovery. Both inmates said they would resist further cancer treatment unless they could receive it elsewhere, the newspaper said.

And, it said, emails obtained from Augusta University in response to an open records request indicate that several nurses have quit in recent months because they feared for their safety.

Wilkes is being moved to his former job because “he has been very successful in leading transitional and reentry efforts previously,” Heath wrote.

Wilkes, who is in his 17th year with the department, did not respond to a phone and email messages seeking comment, the newspaper said.

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