Dr. Joseph Bretonʼs departure comes as he was overseeing the stateʼs transition away from UConn Health as the provider of prison medical care, to Breton, who had worked as a prison doctor for UConn Health, became a Department of Correction employee when he accepted the medical chiefʼs position in March.The changeover follows a consultantʼs report that found 25 flawed medical cases, including eight inmate deaths, an increase in malpractice suits filed on behalf of inmates, and growing concerns about the stateʼs exposure to possible multimillion-dollar payouts.
The transition is scheduled to be completed in July.
Breton had expressed concerns about the DOCʼs readiness to take on medical care for more than 13,400 inmates, many of whom are entering the system with opioid or other drug addictions, hepatitis C and other illnesses.
Breton resigned for another job opportunity, said DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci.She said Wednesday that the department “will continue with the transition of health care services and plans to refill this vacancy as soon as possible. Although complex in nature, the transition is moving along as planned.
We credit the success of this massive undertaking to the collaborative efforts of both the Department of Correction and UConn Health.”Breton had been in private practice for about 15 years before he was hired by UConn Health to work as a prison doctor at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers in 2015. In a sworn deposition in May, he told lawyer Kenneth Krayeske, who is representing inmate Wayne World in a malpractice suit over a misdiagnosis of Worldʼs lymphoma, that he had resigned as a prison doctor in January.
Breton said he was disillusioned and troubled by what he said were daily delays in medical care that were harming inmates, denials of testing or specialist referrals by UConn Healthʼs “utilization review” committee, and fundamental problems with communication between UConn Health and the Department of Correction, which was paying UConn about $100 million per year for the medical care.
Breton also said in the deposition that Wayne World dropped into his office one day covered in gauze bandages on his arms and legs that were leaking yellowish fluid onto the floor — fluid that later had to be mopped up by the inmate trusty. Breton, who quickly took over Worldʼs case, said he was shocked and “disgusted” by the treatment that World had received.“How did that make you feel?” Krayeske asked Breton. “I was angry, to be honest ... I had never seen anything like that before ... The severity of it,” Breton answered, according to a transcript of the deposition.
World had developed skin lesions and was being treated with an assortment of topical creams. Eventually, a long-delayed biopsy came back positive for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. His condition had been diagnosed for more than two years as psoriasis, according to court records. “Do you think the [prison] medical system failed him?” Krayeske asked. It was in January, just as Breton had given his two-weeks notice, when Correction Commissioner Scott Semple and consultant Greg Robinson, sat Breton down and asked him what heʼd changed about the prison medical care system if he could.In March, Semple offered Breton the job as medical director, replacing In March, Semple offered Breton the job as medical director, replacing Dr. Kathleen Maurer, whose nurse investigator, Tim Bombard, had discovered a series of troubling cases, and who had brought concerns to the administration. Maurer was reassigned to run the prison systemʼs addiction programs.