Allegheny County Jail health services administrator resigns

Brittany Hailer

Allegheny County Jail Health Services Administrator Ashley Brinkman has resigned from her position according to internal emails obtained by the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

Brinkman’s email states, “Because I don’t want to delay any further, I am letting you know that after much reflection I have decided to leave the Allegheny County Jail.”

“There are already rumors–which I would like to address with you first. Without a doubt these rumors are not true. Given the nature of the rumors, I kindly ask that you not participate in them and respect that I will not be discussing my departure plans,” Brinkman wrote. 

Brinkman’s final day at the jail is Oct. 17, according to jail spokesperson Jesse Geleynse.

Geleynse said that there are, “three deputy health services administrators who will assume her [Brinkman’s] duties.” He also said that the jail expects the position to be posted, “in the near future.”

In July, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network administered a survey to healthcare staff and presented it to the Jail Oversight Board. PIIN received anonymous responses from 31 of the 39 healthcare employees.

Of the 31 survey participants, none felt health services administrator Brinkman was qualified to make medical decisions. Brinkman has a PhD in counselor education and is a licensed professional counselor, but has no medical degree.

“Management needs to change. Having people who have absolutely no medical experience or licensure overseeing and overruling Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurses’ decisions in patient care is completely out of line, unethical, and unsafe. Management only communicates with each other, not the staff beneath them who are their front line,” wrote one staff member in response to the survey. 

“I hope we get an actual licensed medical professional to replace her,” said county councilwoman and Jail Oversight Board member Bethany Hallam. 

John Kenstowicz, who helped administer the survey and presented its findings to the JOB, said during Brinkman’s tenure, he was concerned “about the large increase in vacancies in our jail’s healthcare unit.”

“It is my hope that Dr. Brinkman’s replacement will have a supportive presence in the jail blocks, listen to frontline staff, value their expertise and include them in the design of policies and implementation of operations,” he said.