A number of complaints about issues at Lemon Creek Correctional Center as it dealt with COVID issues in 2020 were addressed in a recent news release from the state ombudsman’s office. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

A number of complaints about issues at Lemon Creek Correctional Center as it dealt with COVID issues in 2020 were addressed in a recent news release from the state ombudsman’s office. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Prison investigated for medical treatment amid pandemic

Report stems from four complaints.

Lemon Creek Correctional Center was investigated for multiple complaints about COVID-related issues in fall and winter of 2020, according to a report from the Alaska Ombudsman’s office.

In two cases, state Ombudsman Kate Burkhart found Department of Corrections personnel acted reasonably, but in two other cases, the office made recommendations that were followed by the facility, according to the ombudsman’s office.

There were four separate investigations occurring over fall and winter of 2020, according to the release. The first was a shortage of medical treatment, the second was the usage of a tent for housing inmates, the third was adding new inmates to an in-process quarantine and the fourth was related to shower access during medical isolation.

[50 years after ANCSA, some still fighting for land]

LCCC was operating without 40% of its medical staff due to exposures at one point, the ombudsman found. Evidence showed that while inmates were receiving adequate care based on the COVID-19 plan at the time, they weren’t having their temperatures checked as frequently as they should have. DOC brought on additional medical staff in December 2020 to address shortage, and followed the ombudsman’s recommendations about training additional staff to perform temperature checks, according to the news release.

The tent has been in use at LCCC for 23 years due to overcrowding in general population, according to the ombudsman. While inmates were provided with hand sanitizer, it doesn’t replace the benefits of regular hand washing, according to the report, which cited the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DOC installed a sink in January 2021 after consulting with the ombudsman.

In the other two cases, the ombudsman found that LCCC personnel had acted reasonably in both cases. While adding new inmates to existing quarantine groups is suboptimal, according to the ombudsman, it was within the guidelines. The ombudsman found that the other complaint, regarding shower access during medical isolation, had been unfounded; their showers had not been unreasonably limited.

The ombudsman’s office has received 66 complaints about the DOC since July of 2020 said the news release, which represents about 16% of the total complaints, around 400, received in that time. A previous ombudsman’s report in early 2021 had recommended following a complaint at LCCC an overhaul of the DOC’s dental program, a challenge across the state.

A DOC spokesperson acknowledged receiving a message with questions on Tuesday afternoon but was unable to immediately return answers with complete information.

Read the full ombudsman’s report below

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Michele Stuart Morgan (right), a Juneau Board of Education candidate, signs a qualifying petition for Jeff Redmond (center), who is also seeking one of three school board seats in the Oct. 1 municipal election, just before Monday’s filing deadline at City Hall. At left, Deputy Municipal Clerk processes last-minute paperwork filed by candidates. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Here’s the candidates certified for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot as the filing deadline passes

Two running for mayor, seven for two Assembly seats, six for three school board seats.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training on April 25, 2023. (Lt. Cmdr. Wryan Webb/U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard calls off search for trio who went missing flying from Juneau to Yakutat

Haines pilot Samuel Wright, Yakutat residents Hans Munich and Tanya Hutchins were on plane.

Juneau Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Assembly members after his resignation was announced during a May 13 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Three city attorney finalists to be interviewed in public sessions this week by Juneau Assembly

Two Juneau residents with CBJ experience and D.C.-based Army attorney seek to replace Robert Palmer.

Angela Rodell, former CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., speaks to the House Finance Committee on Thursday, June 24, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Angela Rodell, former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. CEO, says she’s running for mayor

First-time candidate to challenge incumbent Beth Weldon; filing deadline for local election is today.

Republican U.S. House candidate Nick Begich, with sign-holding supporters, waves to Midtown Anchorage motorists on Election Day in 2022. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Some Alaska Republican candidates pledge to withdraw if they aren’t atop GOP votes in primary

Pledges are a way to circumvent ranked choice voting, according to one supporter.

People protesting the death of Steven Kissack gather at Marine Park after marching through downtown Juneau on Sunday afternoon. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Protesters demand police accountability following death of Steven Kissack

Advocates gather where he was shot, say they are raising their voices because “he’s unable to speak.”

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

Most Read