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Gynecologist performed hysterectomies on ‘everybody he saw’ at Georgia ICE center, nurse says


Gynecologist dubbed ‘the uterus collector’ performed hysterectomies on ‘everybody he saw’ at Georgia immigration center where officials refused to test detainees for Covid-19, whistleblower nurse claims

  • Dawn Wooten worked as a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla
  • She said of one doctor at the facility that ‘everybody he sees has a hysterectomy’
  • Wooten said it was unclear if these migrant women consented to surgery
  • She also claims that coronavirus is more rife at the facility than ICE has revealed
  • As of Sunday, 42 detainees at the facility had tested positive for coronavirus 

By Ross Ibbetson For Mailonline and Associated Press

Published: | Updated:

A gynecologist dubbed ‘the uterus collector’ performed hysterectomies on ‘everybody he saw’ at a Georgia immigrant detention facility, a whistleblower nurse has claimed. 

The complaint to the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog relies on accounts of Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time as a licensed practical nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed. 

‘Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy – just about everybody,’ Wooten said. ‘He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady.

‘She was supposed to get her left ovary removed because it had a cyst on the left ovary; he took out the right one. She was upset. She had to go back to take out the left and she wound up with a total hysterectomy.

‘She still wanted children – so she has to go back home now and tell her husband that she can’t bear kids… she said she was not all the way out under anesthesia and heard him [doctor] tell the nurse that he took the wrong ovary.’

Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, around 200 miles south of Atlanta

Wooten said that the number of those who were having the procedure led she and her colleagues to question what the necessity was.

The whistleblower said: ‘We’ve questioned among ourselves like goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out … That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector. I know that’s ugly … is he collecting these things or something … Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out. What in the world.’

It was unclear to Wooten if women knowingly consented to the operations. Nurses raised concerns about the doctor, who is unnamed.

‘These immigrant women, I don’t think they really, totally, all the way understand this is what’s going to happen depending on who explains it to them,’ she is quoted saying. 

The facility in Ocilla, about 200 miles south of Atlanta, houses men and women detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service and Irwin County.

ICE said it does not comment on matters before the inspector general but that it takes all allegations seriously.

‘That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve,’ the agency said in a statement.

While the 27-page complaint filed by advocacy group Project South quotes unidentified detainees extensively, it also includes detailed comments from Wooten. 

The complaint says Wooten was demoted after missing work with coronavirus symptoms, which she believes was retaliation for raising questions about addressing COVID-19.

Wooten said the number of detainees infected was much higher than reported because there was no active testing and not all cases were reported, according to the complaint.

Wooten is quoted as saying the sick call nurse sometimes fabricated seeing detainees in person when they hadn’t and that she saw the nurse shred a box of detainee complaints without looking at them. She said nurses ignored detainees reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

The Department of Homeland Security flag flies outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC

If detainees reported a fever, nurses would put them on an over-the-counter cold medication for seven days without testing them for COVID-19, she said.

Wooten said the facility declined to use two rapid-testing COVID-19 machines that ICE purchased for $14,000 each. No medical staff had been trained on them and she saw the machines used only once.

LaSalle Corrections, which owns and operates Irwin County Detention Center under contract, did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

As of Sunday, 42 detainees at the facility had tested positive for the virus, according to ICE. Nationwide, 5,772 detainees were positive.


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