Healthcare

Controversial posting for doctor at migrant detention facility yanked from job board after outcry

A listing for a migrant detention facility physician is no longer posted on a medical association job board after a doctor advocate drew attention to the controversial language in the description. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Tuesday removed a posting for GEO Group, a for-profit company operating many of the U.S. border facilities, following a Washington Post op-ed written by Dr. Ranit Mishori outlining the unusual language used to describe the position. 

GEO Group pushed back on Mishori's op-ed, with a spokesperson for the firm telling The Hill that the "claims are outrageous and baseless."

It is not clear if JAMA removed the posting due to the backlash or issues Mishori raised. The association did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The post for lead physician at a Basile, La., facility had been up for nearly a month, and Mishori said it originally included "eight chilling words...'Philosophically committed to the objectives of this facility.'"

An archived version of the since-removed post shows it was later revised to ask for a doctor who can operate "based on the company goals, objectives and philosophy according to industry standards and contractual obligations." 

Mishori, a member of Physicians for Human Rights, told NPR the original posting read as a "very, very specific example of what we call in medical ethics dual loyalty."

"Dual loyalty is something that relates to the potential conflict between clinicians' duties to their patients and their obligations to their employers. When these organizations have sometimes questionable tasks to fulfill, that becomes a very, very serious almost ethical minefield, I would say," she said. 

The job posting is still up on GEO Group's website, though it does not appear to directly ask for a candidate who is "philosophically committed" to the facility's objectives.

The controversial language was not the only red flag Mishori raised. The posting lists a $400,000 salary, and asks for a physician with at least two years of experience. Board certification is not required in the job posting.  

Mishori told NPR the $400,000 salary is "very unusual, especially for somebody who is a general practitioner." 

"The other thing is they're not asking for a board certification, which usually is a marker for competency of some sort," she said.  

"Board certification are additional exams that people who graduate from residency programs have to take to show that they can deliver the best high-quality care. They're not asking for that." 

A GEO Group spokesperson said, "In all of the facilities that we manage on behalf of the government, we are deeply committed to delivering culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments and to treating everyone in our care with dignity and respect."

"This is the only commitment we expect from all of our employees, including our medical professionals," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

"We play no role in passing immigration laws, and we have never taken a position on immigration policies. As a service provider to the government, our only mission is to deliver the highest quality care in the most humane setting possible. That is all we ask our employees to commit to, and for Professor Mishori to imply otherwise is shameful." 

GEO Group and other for-profit companies operating migrant facilities have come under fire as Democrats call out reported unsafe and unsanitary conditions at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities.  

Earlier this month, the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent letters to GEO Group and two other for-profit contractors seeking documents and correspondence with CBP and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Reform (ICE). 

The committee claims GEO Group received more than $300 million in new ICE contracts in fiscal year 2017, which is $100 million more than the prior year. The committee said the contractors earned an additional $342 million in fiscal year 2018. 

GEO Group told The Hill at the time the firm offers modern amenities with a bed for every individual, recreational activities and 24/7 medical care.

-Updated at 5:58 p.m.

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