VT Offender Relates Experience With Prison Health Services

Praise for VSEA DOC Staff, But Few Kind Words For Private, For-Profit Prison Health Firm.

     "Unfortunately I myself have spent time in the Vt prisons. I will be the first to say that there was NEVER a time I was mistreated by a prison staff member, nor was I ever denied anything by them. I however was refused treatment and medications by the medical service staff and Dr’s. I am a severe diabetic and suffer greatly with neuropathy. I was denied medications for the treatment of neuropathy because they were considered non formulary drugs that the health services did not stock or normally povide. I use and insulin pump for diabetic treatment. Because the facility had never used one nor did they know anything about it, I was able to bring it with me. However keeping the supplies needed for the operation was a constant battle. My probation officer requested that I not spend the 30 days in St. Albans and instead spend the 30 days on house arrest, or medical furlough. The request was denied after health services assured the department of corrections they could provide all that I would need. Once in the prison I had to file a grievence agaisnt the health services in order to receive SOME of my needs. I at one point was even denied food from health services while having a low sugar attack. If it had not been for the officers on duty that evening getting me food from the kitchen and then closely monitoring me I could have fallen into a comma.
     My 30 days was to be served in the infirmary and this is where I stayed, just like this young girl. I survived my time because of the department of corrections employees, not the health service providers. Not only do they lack knowledge, they lack compassion and computance. It was obvious that DOC employees had not only been trained to deal with the issues, they knew when to say I am not sure and ask for help. Like this young lady, health service had advance notice of my arrival, and THEY assured correction officials they could meet my needs.They were given 3 weeks to prepare for my arrival. DOC staff was ready for me, health services was not. I was released after 15 days, though medical services continued to maintain they could take care of me. It was clear they could not. The charge nurse continued to make promisses. She however was never able to follow through, nor were her staff nurses. I was NEVER seen by the health services so called Dr. even though he is the one that assured DOC he and his staff could provide what I needed. While there I saw many that were not getting the care they needed, could hear many ask for meds they were not getting and even saw a woman that needed a dressing change sit and wait for hours only to be told she would have to wait until the following day because they were out of the bandage materials required.
     While in the infirmary you see many come in and out, I was disgusted to hear the charge nurse tell women giving urine samples to put the samples on the sink when finished. This was the only bathroom for the people staying in the infirmary, this is where I brushed my teeth. When I voiced my opinion she said "it’s not like I am letting them urinate in the sink". So unsanitary!!!!!!! Thankfully an officer made sure to go and get disinfectant to clean the bathroom. Thankfully I was well enough to clean that bathroom a few times a day as the nurses continued to do this. DOC may not be perfect, but I believe they try very hard, and after my stay there I can be almost 100% positive that she was not mistreated by a DOC staff member. I am sure they did all they could do to help her. I am sure that they were constantly at medical services to do the right thing. I can be sure, because they did these things for me. Thank goodness."

— Posted To Times Argus Story by Raylene Meunier on Fri, Oct 2, 2009, 9:34 am EST