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Health Dept. Looking at Southern New Mexico Prison


Associated Press
      LAS CRUCES — The state Department of Health is looking at medical and hygiene practices at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility after some employees raised concerns about a staph infection.
    Epidemiologists spent the first three days of the week examining practices at the prison west of Las Cruces, "looking at charts and reviewing hygiene,'' said a Health Department spokesman, Chris Minnick.
    The investigation came after some correctional officers contended cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, were going untreated.
    The department will look at how many people have the infection and how they contracted it.
    Its analysis will not be released for about a week, but the state Correction Department's health services director, Frank Pullaro, said preliminary findings show the prison's practices are up to par.
    "Everything is looking great,'' he said. "Everything's looking fine; the cleanliness is fine.''
    Health Department officials on Wednesday would not discuss findings.
    Some Southern New Mexico employees have contended the infection rate has reached an epidemic; Pullaro has said the infection is well within safe and controllable limits.
    The Health Department does not typically monitor such infections, but agreed to look at the prison after a request from the Corrections Department late Friday afternoon, Minnick said.
    Corrections officials declined to comment.