A former nurse at an immigration detention center Ocilla, GA is speaking out about the “jarring medical neglect” allegedly taking place within its walls, including an alarming rate of hysterectomies and what she describes as a total disregard for the spread of coronavirus. After leaving the Irwin County Detention Center in July, Dawn Wooten, who worked at the facility on and off for a decade, filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General on Sept. 14. Law & Crime, a legal news website, helped break the news by publishing a story the same day the complaint was filed, which would go on to be widely covered. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Sept. 15, Wooten shed more light on what what she witnessed.
“As a human, you just don’t treat people inhumane. I have a title as a licensed practical nurse, and I protect my title with dignity,” Wooten told Hayes. The complaint alleges that a “high rate” of hysterectomies are being performed by an unnamed gynecologist outside of ICDC. One detained immigrant quoted in the complaint, who compared ICDC to an “experimental concentration camp,” said she knew five women who had undergone the surgery, and many of them were unsure why they were subjected to the surgery in the first place. Wooten, meanwhile, says she knew of one woman who needed to have her left ovary removed due to a cyst, and the gynecologist erroneously removed the right ovary.
In her MSNBC interview, Wooten recalled a remark once made by a detained immigrant: “‘What is he? Is he the uterus collector? Does he collect uteruses?’ . . . Everybody that I talk to has had a hysterectomy.” Wooten said, “I had no answers as to why they had those procedures.”
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