Health care or health scare?

Collins, Jaquane

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Prison Health Care or Health Scare? As a writer speaking from a first hand experience I am not asking you to put yourself in my shoes for prison is something I wouldn't want anyone to experience. Not even my worst enemy for not many are able to withstand the amount of physical, mental and emotional torture we go through on a daily basis. The fact that I'm still focused and strong today doesn't take away the pain I've endured over the years and the experience I still experience today. Sympathy and empathy is not the solution, nor my cause. A fight for change for the better is. So I hope you read on, that this small glimpse of reality open up your eyes and give you a better understanding of what is really going on. And just maybe you too will join the fight for change because this is where a major portion of your tax paying dollars is going. Into this trillion dollar business called "prison." One first hand experience in particular dealing with this ongoing prison "health scare" involved me noticing a small lump in the groin area after a day's worth of working out. Following me noticing it I immediately put in a sick call slip and was called to medical to see a nurse two weeks later. During that nurse visit, the nurse stated that I may have just pulled a muscle. No medication or treatment was given and I was told that she would be referring me to be seen by a doctor. Seven months later the bulge had grown in size and become painful. I still have not been seen by a doctor yet following that nurse visit. The pain I was experiencing was so bad that it began to limit my mobility and interfere with my daily activities. For example, making it hard to walk a long distance to meals or stand for a small amount of time. Another sick call slip was placed in and I was seen by the same nurse shortly after. This time she diagnosed me with an inguinal hernia and she even went the extent to document that it appeared painful and no medication or treatment was given. Again, I was referred to a doctor. It wasn't until three months later that I would actually be able to be seen by a doctor. On the day of the doctor visit the doctor observed the injury and the notes left by previous nurses and diagnosed me with a different type of hernia called abdominal hernia. And instead of ordering a "hernia belt" or a "truss" to prevent the hernia from worsening until further treatment, the doctor, instead ordered me an abdominal binder which is nothing more than a waist band. And still no treatment for pain. For the next ten months I continued to complain and experience unnecessary pain. I utilized other available avenues in order to retain relief. I wrote grievances, complained to the warden of the institution, still no relief. I reached out to the Commissioner of Corrections of the Department of Public Safety Corrections and Services. Still I was denied relief and they even went the extent of downplaying my injury. After a longstanding painful plea for treatment, two other employed nurses was brought to attention of my injury and they took matters in their hand and requested for an emergency surgery and surgical consultation. And even then, the two nurses got in trouble and other physicians tried to block surgery stating that they state wouldn't pay for it. My last plea for help resulted in me reaching out to the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. (ACLU) And it was then, the force from their legal program manager demanding action and surgery for me resulted in me receiving a much needed and delayed surgery. Two weeks after the state, the warden and the Department of Correction received the ACLU demand, I received surgery at a local hospital. Currently my case is pending but I can say that I am blessed to be alive and in good health. I am blessed that I had people on the outside who supported me which helped my issue be made a priority. Everyone doesn't have that special someone or support system on the outside to help bring their struggles to light. Once upon a time I was that person though. Hernia is a significant injury. And if left untreated it can become enlarged and painful. Medically speaking the only standing treatment is emergency surgery. Because the sign of pain signals that the hernia has become strangulated and/or incarcerated. And it could result in gangrene and risk of grave injury or death. Further investigation into the topic at hand, specifically in Maryland and the private healthcare contractor, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., revealed that inadequate treatment and lack of policy, treatment and lack of implementing [a] policy has been an ongoing issue dating back all the way to 2008. The question is why? When does it end? How many will have to suffer? Die? Before someone is held accountable and a change is not only made but enforced. When it comes to prison(s) I understand that it is not built or designed to be a five-star hotel or a high class place of residency. At the same time though, both those who have been convicted and wrongfully convicted, those that are being held in the state's custody and the federal's custody... All of us are still human, yet, we are being looked upon and treated less than human. It's all obvious by the way they feed us, house us in overpopulated populations, the way they house 100 to 200 inmates on one tier and only place one microwave and several phones and give us a hour recreation amount of time and make phone calls 30 minutes long. That is a [physociological] tactic and a form of manipulation and control. As prisoners... does that mean that we are not U.S. citizens? No! Are we being governed by a separate constitution than those who are free? No! Yet we are being frowned upon and treated as if it is true. For decades, prisons health care has actually been a "health scare." Many have lost their lives and with that their inability to tell "their" story. Many have sustained permanent injuries. How many more? Before we can think about finding a solution we must first begin the journey of identifying the problem. Privately hired health care contractors are at the center of the controversy but it may be bigger than them. Are people capable of making mistakes? Yes! We are all human and no one is actually perfect even though they may seem to be. But how many times must one make the same mistakes or decisions before one comes to the realization that maybe... just maybe... those decisions are not really mistakes. Maybe more so... carelessness... lack of policy... lack of implementing policies... lack of training... "lack of accountability..." Accountability is something that the state of Maryland is not enforcing when it comes to holding privately hired contractors and corporations responsible. Is it about money? Could be in part or full depending on the "who!" In 1996, congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Prison Litigation Reform Act. (PLRA) That reform act is very anti-prisoner and limits prisoners access to the federal courts. In the end making any prisoner complaint costly and time consuming. Every year hundreds, maybe thousands of prisoner complaints pile up against the medical departments within the prisons nationwide. Although each state has there own process to follow before bringing their issue to court, the public fail to realize that the majority of these complaints and cases goes unheard of, fail and are dismissed by the courts. Leaving indigent inmates a costly bill, now then owed to the state, of $50.00 to $350.00. Money that will be deducted out the inmates account and money sent in from friends and family until the debt is paid. Even though it is being deducted on a percentage basis, why are prisoners being charged to pay the state and/or government for complaining and seeking relief for an injury or inadequate treatment they received in "their" custody that they are getting paid (adequate medical care) to provide. It is already bad enough that the state is getting paid $45,000 to $60,000 a year per inmate and that rate increases yearly it seems and the public and prisoners can't seem to find out where that money is being spent and going. And to say, that $45,000 to $60,000 per inmate that the state is being paid is supposed to cover adequate medical care is an understatement to say the least. That money is part of the government monopolizing and capitalizing off of a form of modern day slavery. Because not only are they not providing adequate medical care but is charging prisoners for complaining about it. The state of Maryland recently dropped a Pittsburg based, private health care company called Wexford Health Sources, Inc. And now hired another one which was previously known as Prison Health Sources, known now as Corizon. Both of whom been subjected to major criticism and lawsuits for their "lack of care." One in which was dropped by the District of Columbia in 2017 for a wrongful death case and malpractice claim. Combined the two private health care contractors have been hit with over 2,000 malpractice and 8th amendment violation claims. Still they have no problem in retaining over 250 million dollar contracts with multiple states. These same companies and corporations are no less criminal than the alleged criminals they are being hired to provide adequate medical care for. And their crimes are being committed under the nose and in the eyes of the government. So this leads one to think... How can we, as the people, get the government to hold these corporations accountable? Then again... look at them. Those who "run" the government. They can't even hold themselves accountable. Better yet... look at our president. In the end all of this makes us wonder. This is deeper than we think... and it ain't got nothing to do with the NFL... Collusion or constitution. Respectfully Solid, strong, sincere

Author: Collins, Jaquane

Author Location: Maryland

Date: February 9, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 9 pages

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