October, 2004 : Lives at Risk, Substandard Medical
- Staph infection rampant in prisons
Fred Leyland writes from FCI Beckley, West Virginia: "Staph germs
invaded our camp here. Several inmates got really sick, resulting
in numerous denials by staff that anything was wrong. No disinfectant
or decontamination. Finally, when the media got word of it, a change
in bedding - new mattresses and pillows - followed."
Fred encloses a Reuters article from the New York Post, dated July
15, which he thinks applies to FCI Beckley.
"A drug-resistant 'superbug' found in hospitals has a close cousin
that is affecting athletes, prisoners and small children in growing
numbers across the nation, experts said yesterday.
"Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can become
fatal if not treated with the right antibiotics, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan
of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"'MRSA is showing up in places it had never been seen before
--- as the most common cause of skin infections among inmates in some
jails and --- rarely as a severe and sometimes fatal lung or bloodstream
infection in previously healthy people,' Jernigan told reporters.
"He said the community strains, unlike those in hospital, 'were
capable of producing a toxin --- which can cause destruction of cells
in the skin leading to pus formation but also can cause a serious
and often fatal form of pneumonia."
- Doctor Rath's stethoscope trick
Richard Lester describes treatment for his pneumonia after the
forest fire outside FCI Safford landed him in hospital [see Richard's
story in Forest Fire Imperils Prison].
I was assigned to the hospital wing on account of fluid in my lungs.
The doctor is a quack. His name is Doctor Rath - without the W, of
course. Rather than treat me for the infection in my lungs, Rath decided
to change my standard medications. As a result of that blunder, my
blood pressure dropped to 73/60. I became desperately ill, not that
I wasn't there already.
Once when Dr. Rath examined me and I was at a very low ebb, he placed
his stethoscope on my chest for about three seconds and announced
with a smile, "You sound better." My eyes went up to meet
his, only to notice that his portion of the stethoscope was around
his neck, not in his ears. He left the room, and I inquired of the
guard, "Can he hear with that thing around his neck?"
The guard laughed. "Not a chance!" He went on to say that
prisoners were about all the patients he had. No one in their right
mind would seek his help or advice.
He continued: "Doc Rath could see everyone in hospital and in
his office and be on the first tee by 9 AM."
By the way, I am told I am no longer considered to be in custody.
What can this mean? They removed the chains that secured me to the
hospital bed. When they returned me here I walked through the prison
gates free of chains. The first time in 11 years. I believe they will
send me to another facility soon. Will keep you posted.
God bless, Dick
- Another death at FCI Danbury: "Once the razor begins to
go thru your body
There was a major investigation going on here. We have one unit that's
a psych unit. One of the girls broke up some of those disposable razors
and put them in tissue and swallowed them along with a bunch of pills.
Some of the other inmates in her unit went and told, and they put
her on suicide watch, which consists of a room up in medical with
the food slot in the door open and another inmate watching you 24/7.
Now any idiot would have to imagine that once the razor pieces begin
to go thru your body there's going to be cutting as you try to pass
them. Even if they didn't believe she'd really done it she should
have been sent to the outside hospital. Well, at 7.30 when the PA
finally decided to check her, she was already dead. The inmate that
was watching her never noticed that for hours on end this woman didn't
turn over or move. I'd have to say she was sleeping on the job. We
were locked down all day. They had another memorial service for her,
the sixth in two years.
(Excerpt of copy of letter received from the sister of a prisoner
at the Federal women's prison at Danbury.)