Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TB or not TB? That is the question.

[pic taken on vacation..2004. Milkshake in a bag!]

My son, Jeremy, is a prison inmate at CCC Susanville. He was recently transferred there, from High Desert across the way, to begin Fire Camp. He was very excited to begin this training. Well, he was. Now, not so much. Apparently he contracted TB while at High Desert within the past few months. They tested him when he went in and just re-tested, at CCC, to make sure he could go to Fire Camp. So, no Fire Camp.

BTW, my son is in prison for a non-violent alcohol related parole violation. You aren't supposed to drink when you are on parole. He got 3 years for that. Now, he'll be on TB meds for the next year or so...hopefully anyway. He's looking at another transfer...not sure where he'll go. Apparently, there is a wide-spread outbreak in the prison system. That'll happen when you stuff 500 people into a shoe box...when one sneezes or coughs, someone else is sure to breathe it in.
If anyone feels like writing to him, I'll share his address. He lives for mail and is certainly catching up on his reading..which he loves to do. He says it is very loud where he is, so he wears ear-plugs constantly.

Can Technology Fix California Prison Health Care? part article– Kim S. Nash, CIO

April 11, 2008

Four years ago at San Quentin, the 156-year-old prison where the state of California keeps some of its most dangerous criminals, doctors saw an inmate for high blood pressure, diabetes and renal failure. The inmate got two drugs that, according to court documents, made his kidney problems worse. His blood pressure climbed so high his eyes bled. Yet a year passed before prison medical staff referred the inmate to a kidney specialist at a local hospital. He never got to go—the records are unclear about why—and he died three months later.

If only, as on the outside, there had been a database to alert prison doctors of drug interactions. If only there had been software to schedule appointments. If only there had been basic Internet access, e-mail and electronic data about patients, so that prison medical staff could share information. That patient might have lived.

More than 170,000 inmates crowd California's 33 state prisons. That's about as many people as live in Tempe, Ariz., and it's more than double the number the prisons were built to hold. Inside those bars, one inmate dies every six to seven days because of "deplorable" medical care, according to U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson. In 2001, 10 inmates at nine prisons, including San Quentin, accused the state of violating the Eighth Amendment with medicine that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. In 2002, Henderson agreed with the inmates, pronouncing California's prison healthcare system unconstitutional.

The state settled the case, agreeing to fix the problems. But by mid-2005, after six days of hearings, Henderson concluded the state had made no progress. He seized control, appointing a receiver—a federal overseer—to hire new people, change processes and install basic information technology found even in small rural hospitals in the United States. The aim of the receivership (officially the California Prison Health Care Receivership) isn't to offer criminals state-of-the-art health care. It's to do no harm.

An "unconscionable degree of suffering and death is sure to continue if the system is not dramatically overhauled," he wrote, explaining his decision. The decision and other court material relay story after story of how inmates didn't get the right medications on time. Or they didn't see specialists when they should have. Or they were treated by incompetent doctors whose personnel records didn't document their failings. Or no one knew the inmate was sick because his medical record was wrong. Or lost.

Today, after three more years, the system still falls short of constitutional standards. Some improvements have been made—nurses added, some doctors replaced; some software installed to, for example, track pharmaceuticals at some prisons. But there's a lot to overcome.

For years, in some cases, for decades, several prisons lacked working phones for the medical staff. Others relied on antique Brother typewriters to fill in forms and leaky, lightless trailers in which to store them. Prison employees soaked printer ribbons in ink by hand because the dot-matrix printers were so old that manufacturers no longer made replacement parts. While the prison healthcare budget had grown from $556 million in 2000 to $1.6 billion last year, most of the money went to staff and medical supplies, not to infrastructure or technology that could have made operations more efficient. "Data management, which is essential to managing a large healthcare system safely and efficiently, is practically nonexistent," Henderson wrote. "This makes even mediocre medical care impossible."


Eileen and Sue said...

Your poor son.. I'll write to him.
I don't know much about TB but hopefully he's getting care.

Hahn at Home said...

This is just WRONG. Prison healthcare sucks. The entire prison system is much like our foster care system, irretrievably broken. First off, let's empty those prisons of drug and alcohol users and get them into residential treatment programs they can't walk away from. That would be way cheaper in the long run than this endless revolving door we've got going.

And, Mel...sorry about Jer. I hope he hangs tough.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Well, here is the address for Jer:
Central Correctional Center
Jeremy Harris # V-87885
P.O. Box 2500
Susanville, CA 96127

Mike S said...

And Dickie & Dumbya are in the White House?? Something inverted here!!! I'll try to write, perhaps some Maine scenery will cheer him up:)

Trish said...

Ugh. This strikes such a nerve I don't even know what to say. It's like so much of our system's faults. The lack of care (physical and emotional) enrages me. I'm sorry your son has to go through this.

This is my first visit to your blog. (I hopped over from HAH)

I'm intrigued and very curious to read more about your son's story. Do you have other posts about him?

Best to you and him.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

They have very strict rules about what can and cannot be sent into a prison. They are only allowed 10 personal photos...stuff like that.

It's mostly shitf..k guards who get the drugs and stuff in there. It's profitable.

Letters and even cards of encouragement are most welcome.. I am sure.

You don't have to put the entire name of the prison. You can begin with C.C.C. and then the rest. You have to have everything on there or he won't get it.

He asked us for a dictionary...we have to go thru a private book store, like amazon, to send em. So we, unknowingly at the time, sent a large, hardback webster's. He never got it..and we never got it back. It's somewhere. I guess hardback books could be used as weapons.? I guess fists could too but they are allowed to keep those.

Thanks to everyone.

Trish, yes, there is another post about him. I think it's titled..He's Alive.

He certainly has a book in him..for sure.