On any given day, about 50 percent of the staffing levels required under PHS's contract with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department are being met, according to Dana Simon, a spokesman with Oakland-based SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West.
"People are forced to do mandatory overtime of 17-hour shifts, 20-hour shifts," said Terri Grandlund, a nurse who's worked at the jail for 17 years. "We are dealing with diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, wounds that are uncared for and are threatening peopleís life. This is not just passing out a pill. You have one nurse trying to take care of 15 major wounds."
Employees also want retirement benefits.
Prison Health Services, which is the nation's largest provider of inmate medical care, serves more than 310 jails and prisons in 37 states. Last year, PHS was the subject of an expose in the New York Times regarding health and staffing conditions in prisons.
"Unfortunately, the same kind of patient care problems that were documented by the New York Times are happening here in the Bay Area," said Thea Lavin, a communications specialist with SEIU.
Officials with Prison Health Services have repeatedly denied all allegations against them.
According to the county sheriff's department, Santa Rita Jail houses about 4,000 inmates. It is considered a "mega jail" and is the third largest facility in the state and fifth largest in the nation.