EBENSBURG – While Cambria County Jail has seen a slight increase in the total number of new COVID-19 positive cases since Warden Christian Smith last communicated with the Cambria County Jail Board, he had some positive details to report during Wednesday’s meeting at the Cambria County Courthouse.

Smith told the board that the prison received high praise when it was accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) last week.

Smith pointed out to the board that this is not just healthcare accreditation, but also facility-wide certification.

“Adjudicators and inspectors could not have been happier with the care the inmates receive, the facility itself and the condition of the facility,” Smith said.

Smith said there was a minor loophole over ensuring that every inmate received a physical examination within 14 days of entering prison. The reasoning behind the delays was not due to negligence or oversight, according to Smith.

“There were inmates who were slightly past that 14-day window,” Smith said, “but when looked at, it looked like COVID lockdowns and COVID quarantines, and this time we transferred all those held in Huntingdon, this pretty much necessitated these (physical exams) to be done at a later date.

The Director explained that the NCCHC accreditation process takes place every three years.

“I see no reason why we shouldn’t get final accreditation here soon,” Smith said.

Smith said the facility had just gone through its third wave with the novel coronavirus, reporting that the prison had seen a total of 374 positive cases during the pandemic. Of those 364 cases, 300 were inmates, 67 were prison staff and seven were employees of PrimeCare, the prison’s medical provider.

Since the April report, Smith told the council, there have been 81 new positive cases. Currently, nine staff members, all on sick leave, and 17 inmates are battling the virus.

The prison’s screening, testing, cleaning, social distancing and quarantine practices remain in effect, according to the warden.

Shawn Curtis is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5085. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnCurtis430.​


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