Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, says immigrant women were forcibly sterilized and neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic at the privately-run facility..
Three prisoners told The Intercept that Dr. Mahendra Amin, nicknamed “the uterus collector,” had performed at least 20 hysterectomies over six years. Dr. Amin has denied this.
Wooten described what she saw inside the facility to Democracy Now:
I’ve had several women to come to me over the course of time. And in my last attendance there at Irwin County Detention Center, I had a couple of women to come to me and say, you know, “Every time we go out, or every time we go to this place, in talking with other detained women there, that they had this in common.” They would talk about him being “the uterus collector.”
And in hearing it, you know, you don’t know what to say or how to respond. But that was the term that they had given at the time, was that he’s “the uterus collector.” Her actual question was, “What does he do? What does he go around — collecting everybody’s uterus?” You know, it’s jaw-dropping. There’s really not a response to give them for that terminology, but that’s the terminology that was given to me...
Wooten also said the facility tried to keep its COVID-19 cases a secret from employees, detainees, the health department, and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
Yes. In March, whenever we had first come across COVID-19, the first case that was there was not a case. You know, it was like it was invisible. It was silenced. You know, we were not to share it with other employees. We were not to share it with outside. We were not to share it amongst ourselves. There was a time to where I was told that you don’t inform the officers that this person is COVID-positive.
You know, in the beginning, they didn’t take wearing masks seriously. We didn’t have proper PPE in the beginning. It was like a cover-up. It never existed. And as time progressed inside of the facility and there were more cases that systemically appeared, we were still at a place there to where you hear — it was unbelievable — “We didn’t have it. Don’t you talk about it. Don’t you discuss it. That’s not true.”
I am a mother with an underlying condition. I have underlying conditions. And once the terms came to, “Hey, there’s COVID-19 inside of this facility,” they were not reporting to the health department. They were not reporting to the CDC. So, there were cases in the beginning that were not accounted for. They were not justified. And I became in fear not just for myself, but for the lives of others that were around me, as well as my children.
We had N95s. I received one in March. I asked for one again in May, and I was told that “You’re going to have to put this in a bag. You were given one in March.” And until July the 2nd, last day at the facility, I still hadn’t received an N95, that I knew was in the building.
And I had a detainee to — someone stopped me in the hall and said, “Can you check this man’s temp?” I went to check the detainee’s temp. It was 101.8. I went, and I concurred with my supervisor. And one nurse said at the shift change it was 97.3.
You know, going back to check it a second time, it’s 101.8. He had a valid temp. I was told that they wrap themselves in covering, has to depend on what time of day. “Hand him some ibuprofen.” That’s not professional nursing. That is not something that I can do. He was not tested.
You have several detainees that would come up, and they would be symptomatic. But I was told that everybody reads the news, everybody sees the news, they know how to present the symptoms coming across the news. It was inhumane. And it was not justifiably correct. I live by you treat people how you want to be treated. You don’t treat people as if they don’t exist. And they were ignored.
The sanitation, we didn’t have anything to sanitize with. There was no hand sanitizer. We were not wiping down. Six-feet distance — there was not six-feet distance. We were all a couple of nurses in a room. And not only were detainees positive, but there were also employees positive. It wasn’t taken seriously. And I feared for my life and the lives of those that are around.