Just one doctor is responsible for treating more than 1,500 detainees at an immigration detention center in Aurora, Colorado, and that facility is in the midst of a chicken pox outbreak, according to Vice News.
The Denver Contract Detention Facility is now suffering its fourth outbreak of the virus since October, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) reported, and has a new case of the mumps as well — two highly contagious viruses, preventable with vaccinations.
Crow said he was denied access to the facility when he dropped by on Wednesday, concerned over the healthcare situation inside, because he had not made an appointment to do so.
During a press conference outside the detention center, the freshman lawmaker said, “There’s an urgency to this, a public health urgency.”
Crow wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen regarding the issue, questioning why so few doctors were on staff at the facility and why 432 new beds were added in January without consulting local authorities.
“The expansion of the facility comes on the heels of two varicella (chicken pox) outbreaks within months of one another, subjecting dozens of inmates to lengthy quarantines,” Crow's letter reads in part..
“Of note, it is my understanding that the facility only has one physician for the entire population, even after the recent increase in detainees,” he continued.
Crow is not the first to raise concerns over the conditions within ICE detention facilities, including the one in Aurora.
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a complaint with DHS last June alleging that the detention center in Aurora fails to provide adequate health care to detainees.
They wrote: “Medical and mental health care in immigration detention facilities — including Aurora — repeatedly has been flagged as grossly substandard, even though substantial evidence indicates that facility staff, and ICE, are aware of the grave risks to detainees’ health.”
ICE Field Office Director Jeffrey Lynch responded said in a statement:
“With the recent influx of migrants coming from the southern border, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed one new case of parotitis, mumps, at our Denver Contract Detention Facility.
“Medical personnel are credited with reducing the further infection of detainees by their quick reaction to quarantine everyone who may have been inadvertently exposed to stop the spread of the disease.”