- Dr. Mahendra Amin of Georgia has been identified as the gynecologist in a complaint that claimed immigrant women at an ICE Detention Center were subjected to unnecessary procedures.
The gynecologist named in a complaint filed by detainees at a Georgia detention center has been identified as Dr. Mahendra Amin of Douglas, Georgia. The 68-year-old doctor is affiliated with Coffee Regional Medical Center and Irwin County Hospital, where the immigration detention facility reportedly takes some detainees for treatment. Dr. Amin is accused of performing unnecessary hysterectomies on some of theses women. A hysterectomy is a procedure that removes a woman’s uterus or womb and leaves her unable to get pregnant.
According to NBC, “a nurse who worked at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Irwin County, Georgia and four lawyers representing clients there are claiming that immigrant women are routinely being sent to a gynecologist who has left them bruised and performed unnecessary procedures, including hysterectomies.” Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower nurse at the Irwin County facility, did not name Dr. Amin in the complaint made to the Homeland Security Office of Inspector General on Sept. 14., but used the nickname ‘Uterus Collector.’
Dr. Amin’s identity was first reported by Prism, a non-profit news outlet.
At the center of the complaint is the detention center operated by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections. Advocacy groups — Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network — have filed the complaint on behalf of nurse Dawn Wooten, who worked at ICDC for three years.
The complaint alleges that an off-site doctor performed the surgeries on women who complained of conditions such as heavy menstrual cycles or ovarian cysts. But Wooten alleged many of the women did not understand why they’d undergone the procedure. She told The Intercept that the situation in Irwin resembled a “silent pandemic.”
“For years, advocates in Georgia have raised red flags about the human rights violations occurring inside the Irwin County Detention Center,” Priyanka Bhatt, a staff attorney at Project South, one of the groups that filed the 27-page complaint, said in a statement, according to NPR. “Ms. Wooten’s whistleblowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years: gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions at Irwin,” she said. She told The Hill that it includes “jarring information regarding the lack of medical care occurring inside Irwin County Detention Center including medical staff deliberately shredding medical request forms from detained immigrants without looking at them, medical staff falsifying records, denial of COVID-19 testing for detained immigrants, and very concerning accounts from detained immigrants and a protected whistleblower regarding hysterectomies. We hope that this complaint will illustrate the dire need to thoroughly investigate and close the facility,” she said.
Scott Grubman, a lawyer for Dr. Amin, said in a statement that he was confident the doctor would be cleared of any wrongdoing, according to the Washington Post. “Dr. Amin is a highly respected physician who has dedicated his adult life to treating a high-risk, underserved population in rural Georgia,” Grumman said.
Dr. Amin, meanwhile, confirmed to The Intercept that he conducted procedures on immigrant women brought from the facility. He said that after he conducts exams, he requires the approval of the detention center before conducting any necessary procedures. Amin said that he has only performed “one or two hysterectomies in the past two [or] three years.” Dr. Amin did not, however, confirm if those procedures were conducted on ICE prisoners.
The Prism report, however, says that between October and December 2019, five women were sterilized at Irwin County.
The Washington Post reported that Dr. Amin’s lawyer, Grubman, “declined to say exactly how many procedures he had performed, but said Amin would ‘vigorously deny’ any allegations of misconduct.”
In a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sept. 14, ICE defended its handling of the coronavirus, which the agency says has infected nearly 5,700 detainees nationwide and led to six deaths. “ICE epidemiologists have been tracking the outbreak, regularly updating infection prevention and control protocols, and issuing guidance to ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) staff for the screening and management of potential exposure among detainees,” the agency said.
Ada Rivera, medical director of the ICE Health Service Corps, told NBC that “all female ICE detainees receive routine, age-appropriate gynecological and obstetrical health care, consistent with recognized community guidelines for women’s health services.” Citing ICE data, she said, “since 2018, only two individuals at Irwin County Detention Center were referred to certified, credentialed medical professionals at gynecological and obstetrical health care facilities for hysterectomies in compliance with National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) standards. Based on their evaluations, these specialists recommended hysterectomies. These recommendations were reviewed by the facility clinical authority and approved,” Rivera said.
About the coronavirus outbreak, ICE said on its website that as of Sept. 13, there were 42 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among its detainees at Irwin County Detention Center, and 5,772 in all of its facilities, with six overall deaths.
This is not the first time that Dr. Amin has had a brush with the law. He was previously taken to court for making false Medicaid claims. In a case filed against him and other doctors, and Irwin County Hospital in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the government alleged that the hospital was billing Medicaid for obstetric ultrasounds, even if they weren’t necessary.
According to the DOJ press release the case was dismissed as part of a settlement. The hospital and nine doctors, including Dr. Amin, paid more than half a million dollars to the government, but did not admit any liability. “The government, as part of the settlement, did not admit that its own claims were unfounded,” the press release said.