The Georgia prison doctor tied to the questionable deaths of at least nine female inmates has been fired for lying on his state job application — the result of an investigation by his employer, Georgia Regents University, that continues to probe correctional medical care.
Dr. Yvon Nazaire misrepresented his work history when he applied for his job nine years ago, according to his Sept. 3 letter of termination from Georgia Correctional Health Care, a branch of the university that provides physicians for the state prison system.
Providing false information on a state job application in Georgia can be prosecuted as a felony, punishable with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Nazaire, who was paid $174,300 a year as medical director at Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville, had been on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the university’s investigation.
The university began its investigation on July 21, two days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the latest in a series of stories raising questions about the deaths of inmates in Nazaire’s care. The AJC also revealed that Nazaire was hired after submitting a job application stating he was working in the emergency rooms of three New York hospitals when in fact he was unemployed at the time.
In the termination letter, obtained by the AJC this week in response to an open records request, Georgia Correctional Health Care’s statewide medical director, Dr. Billy Nichols, cited Nazaire for falsely listing two New York hospitals as current employers on his application.
“We have since learned that you were not employed at either of those institutions at the time you applied for employment,” Nichols wrote.
Nazaire, contacted this week, declined to comment. He said he has hired an attorney to deal with the matter but refused to provide the lawyer’s name.
“I don’t have anything to say to you,” he said. “I spoke to you before because I’m a Christian. That’s all I’m saying.”
Christen Carter, Georgia Regents’ associate vice president for news and communications, said this week that the university’s investigation, which is looking at Nazaire’s treatment of inmates as well as correctional health care generally, remains ongoing. She said she can’t comment beyond that until the investigation is completed.
Georgia Correctional Health Care has been providing medical care in Georgia’s state prisons since 1997 under a series of contracts with the Department of Corrections. The DOC pays the university roughly $170 million a year for the service.
Tonya Edwards, whose mother died at Pulaski in 2013, said she was glad Nazaire is no longer working in the prison system. But she also expressed the hope that the university’s investigation will ultimately shed light on prison medical care.
“Just because he got fired, they still need to find out what went on with my mother and these other women,” Edwards said.
In July, the AJC described how seven women at Pulaski died agonizing deaths without getting treatment that could have saved or prolonged their lives. The newspaper had previously detailed how two women in Nazaire’s care at Emanuel Women’s Facility in Swainsboro died after their symptoms went untreated for weeks.
The university’s affirmation that Nazaire was hired despite a bogus job application makes the situation even more disturbing, Edwards said. Her mother, Donna Sanders, remained in the Pulaski infirmary on Nazaire’s orders, rather than being taken to a hospital, even as her blood oxygen level became dangerously low.
“I don’t understand how they did not check his background and his employers,” she said.
Instead of completing the employment history portion of his application, Nazaire affixed his resume to the document and wrote “see resume.”
When the AJC checked the resume, it found obvious discrepancies between information Nazaire provided about his employment history and the truth. In fact, one of the hospitals he listed as an employer in 2006, Staten Island’s Bayley Seton Medical Center, had closed its emergency room seven years earlier.
The AJC found a December 2006 bankruptcy court filing in which Nazaire stated that he had been out of work for seven months and a 2009 deposition in which he testified that he hadn’t worked at one of the hospitals listed on the resume, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, since 2003.
In an interview with the AJC in June, Nazaire acknowledged that he was unemployed when he was hired by Georgia Correctional Health Care. In listing the three hospitals as current employers, he said he meant that he hadn’t been fired by them.
“Maybe what I put (on the resume) I put the wrong way,” he said. “I don’t have anything to hide.”
The AJC also discovered that Nazaire claimed on an application he submitted in 2004 to work at a New York hospital that he had a bachelor’s of science degree from Jersey State College. In truth, he attended the college but never graduated.
Dr. Edward Bailey, the medical director for Georgia Correctional Health Care at the time Nazaire was hired, retired in 2012. He has repeatedly declined interview requests from the AJC and did not respond to an email from the newspaper seeking comment for this story.
Public employees in Georgia have been prosecuted for falsely stating their employment or educational qualifications.
In one such case, the director of human resources for the Georgia Department of Public Health was sentenced to probation and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to claiming employment experience and college degrees she didn’t have. The HR director, Donna Alexander, used the bogus credentials to get her $92,000-a-year position in 2012.
A spokesman for Attorney General Sam Olens, whose office prosecutes fraud by state employees, declined to address the question of whether a criminal case would be made against Nazaire.
“We have no comment at this time,” Nick Genesi, Olens’ communications director, wrote in an email Thursday.
Nazaire, 59, came to Georgia after a 20-year career as an emergency room physician in New York that included four malpractice suits over patient deaths and sanctions imposed by that state’s medical board. The sanctions, based on a finding of gross negligence in the treatment of five ER patients, required that Nazaire’s practice be closely monitored for three years.
The New York sanctions were in force when Nazaire sought a license to practice medicine in Georgia in February 2006, but the Georgia Composite Medical Board granted him a license without restriction. Board officials have declined to discuss the decision, which departed from the usual policy when doctors with board orders in other states seek to practice in Georgia.
Although Nazaire worked in the Georgia prison system for nine years, he never established residency here. He kept his home in New Jersey and stayed in the Hawkinsville Budget Inn while on duty at Pulaski.
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