Nurses working at Orange County sheriff's jails are hobbled in their efforts to provide excellent medical care to inmates by significant staffing shortages, insufficient training, equipment problems and communication breakdowns, according to a grand jury report released Thursday.
The grand jury review was prompted by published reports about inmate deaths that raised questions about medical care at the jails.
Overall, nurses are highly professional, competent and dedicated to providing high-quality medical care at the sheriff's five jails, the grand jury summarized.
But staffs and the budget have been shrinking while the inmate populations have soared, creating an environment in which "good nurses are burning out or quitting, and where complaints about nursing conditions seemingly go unheeded," the grand jury concluded.
Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Assn., which represents the nurses, said Thursday that it was refreshing to have the grand jury confirm "everything that we've been saying for years regarding the situation at the jails."