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Psychiatrist now working in Grafton facility was let go by state prison across the street
September 9, 2003
Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

Dr. Shura Hegde didn't have to look far for work after he lost his $96-an-hour job at the Lorain Correctional Institution for "questionable clinical, behavioral and billing practices."

The psychiatrist simply, and literally, crossed the road and landed a job at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, a state prison operated by a private contractor.

State prison authorities were unaware Hegde was hired at North Coast, a 552-bed minimum-security prison for drug and alcohol offenders, after officials at Lorain refused to renew his contract.

He is one of at least four medical professionals ousted from one prison for substandard performance only to later gain a job at another.

An investigation by The Dispatch and WBNS-10TV of problematic prison health care for inmates led Gov. Bob Taft to seek a comprehensive study of prison medicine, including improved screening of medical professionals.

Amid numerous complaints in 2001, a deputy warden at Lorain found Hegde performed "full mental-health evaluations" in 10 minutes and gave the same assessment scores to 30 of 31 inmates, "some of whom were psychotic."

Hegde also was accused of inappropriate behavior -- including playing pingpong on duty -- and of billing the state for half-hour lunches during his four years of work at the prison. The lunches resulting in an overpayment of $36,864.

He began working at North Coast, then operated by CiviGenics Corp. of Marlborough, Mass., on July 1, 2001, the day after his personal-services contract expired at Lorain.

The prisons are in a cluster with Grafton Correctional Institution about 100 miles north of Columbus.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Bureau of Mental Health Services were unaware that Hegde, a resident of of Avon Lake, was working at North Coast, said department spokeswoman Andrea Dean.

Jacqueline Thomas, warden of North Coast, told state officials that Hegde "has not been a problem there at all and is conducting himself appropriately," Dean said.

"The warden has been apprised of our concern about (Hegde's) performance at Lorain and will monitor him," she said.

The state has the right to review and veto the personnel decisions of prison contractors.

The North Coast prison is operated by Management Training Corp. of Ogden, Utah, under a $13.3 million annual contract.

Thomas did not return repeated telephone calls, and Hegde could not be reached for comment. Ralph Tate, health service administrator at North Coast, declined to comment.

In a May 16, 2001, letter to Lorain prison officials, Hegde denied their allegations. The 45-year-old native of India said his contract was not renewed because of "prejudice and malice."

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