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Old 08-22-2014, 10:17 AM
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Billswife2012 Billswife2012 is offline
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Default Gross Medical Neglect at Collins CF

We have all heard about medical neglect of inmates within the prison system. For those of us with loved ones on the inside, we fear it... and we should! Gross indifference and medical neglect is rampant and it is maiming, shortening the lives of or worse- killing our incarcerated loved ones.

I can only speak to my own direct experiences regarding this issue, relay what I have done, and what can and should be done to help your incarcerated loved one.

My long story short- my husband was sentenced to a 3 year in/4 post sentence on the Alford plea for an injury to a law enforcement officer which occurred during a PTSD episode in 2012. As has been common in the news lately, the officers did not handle this mental health crisis properly, and one officer fell and injured the other officer. However my husband was charged with the injury- a violent assault felony. After 6 weeks in Elmira, he was sent to Collins CF which is cruelly an approx. 6 hours one-way from home. Collins is purported to be one of the best NYS medium prisons to be sent to. In general, perhaps it is... unless you fall ill or have a genuine medical crisis. If that's the case, Collins is liable to kill you. My husband was hauled into his cube and left to die, despite the fact that the CO's were aware and the medical dept was called & made aware.

In March of this year, my 46 y/o generally healthy husband suffered a sudden, unexpected & serious stroke of unknown origin. He was not feeling well and went to the bathroom before morning count, where he was found collapsed on the floor by other inmates sometime later. The inmates made the desk CO aware immediately. The CO went in and observed my husband who was completely paralyzed on the right side, unable to speak, and drooling while still laying on the floor of the stall. The CO gave the order to have the inmates drag my husband out; they did. They attempted to stand my husband up in front of the bubble while the CO observed and assessed him. His face was drooping, he could not speak other than unintelligible sounds nor could he stand due to the paralysis. Per the other inmates, the CO called medical who diagnosed my husband over the phone with a seizure, told the CO to take him to his cube and lay him down. It was to near shift change to be bothered with a medical emergency for the medical department! There was NO seizure or seizure-like activity. My husband ended-up laying in his cube for almost 2 hours, suffering, fully aware of what was going on, but unable to move his R side or speak. He was suffering severe head pain. The only care that he received was from the other inmates- one who had thankfully been an EMT. These other inmates stayed w/my husband, wiped his profusely running nose, kept him awake, and demanded for 2 hours that he needed medical attention immediately, that he had obviously had a stroke. My husband recalls hearing one inmate going out to the bubble and yelling that "This man has had a stroke! He needs help!" My husband recalls the CO peeking in a few times and scurrying away.

My husbands obvious stroke occurred just before 6am. He arrived at Buffalo General hospital at 1030am. He had deteriorated so much that the decision was made to medi-vac him via Mercy Flight, by the EMS crew that was finally called after my husband was dragged (literally) to the medical department. He almost died because of the gross negligence of Collins correctional facility and its medical staff. I was notified just before 11am by a neurosurgeon from the hospital that my husband was there and that they needed permission to do emergency surgery to save him, stating that if he survived he was likely to be paralyzed for the rest of his life and they needed to get him into surgery. Unfortunately due to the delay by Collins, he was outside of the clot-buster medication administration window. Remember- I live 6 hours away from Buffalo. The prison finally notified me of my husbands condition just after 12 noon. 5.5 hours after the stroke. And this only after my mother-in-law called up there! Otherwise I don't know how long it would have taken to notify me.

My husband had suffered a large blood clot to the left side of his brain. It was surgically evacuated. He survived and is doing miraculously well, per his DR's.
He has regained the use of his right arm and leg, has minimal speech deficit, only a small amount of facial droop, and we hope with time he will be able to appropriately put words to his thoughts.

There are several other details involved in the delay and negligence of that morning. I can not fully comment as YES, we have filed a notice of claim to sue them as they deserve to be. It is our hope that this lawsuit will bring to light the continuing medical neglect that is happening in prisons at the hands of these independent medical agencies who are in there "treating" our loved ones.

Since my husbands stroke and his return to Collins it has been a continuing fight to get him the proper therapy both physical and mental, the proper medical care and follow-up as well as medications and a heart monitor. It is a daily battle between myself & Collins and the NYSDOC. Frankly, it has been a nightmare. And without outside advocating by myself and his mother I don't know what would be happening to his health.

One word of warning- RETALIATION! My husband was put in the "BOX" a few days ago. I have not heard from him in days. I was notified of this by another inmate. I believe this is in retaliation for the filing of the notice of claim as my husband has been a model inmate who has never received a ticket for anything. He wants nothing more than to get out of there and receive proper medical care for his stroke and to prevent another one. He would never do anything to risk getting out next October on his goodtime. But for some reason- a CO went into his cube while he was asleep, and searched his cube and strangely found a weapon! I feel, without speaking to my husband that this is 100% retaliation from the prison. My husband has helped other inmates contact their families and tell them how to file complaints. He was also keeping me aware of other inmate medical neglect. What better way to prevent this from continuing or prevent him from getting out early to enjoy what ever this lawsuit is guaranteed to bring... than keep him in to max-out and shut him up by finding a reason to put him in the BOX?

Just a few weeks ago, another inmate in Collins II fell ill, went to the restroom, was found hunched over the sink vomiting and suffering chest pain. This inmate was taken to his cube by other inmates per CO order. He was taken out of his cube 2 hours later, deceased.

Please know that you have the right to investigate any and all medical issues relating to your inmate. You can file complaints or ask for an investigation. You can call the medical department and speak to the nurse admin if you have concerns. If you know that there is a medication error- report it! Call your regional DOCC Health Administration! Do not file complaints directly with the prison! Get a medical record release signed by your loved one and get all the medical records. You can send him a blank release, he can sign it and either send it back to you or he can send it directly where it needs to go. Request every medical record> ambulance, hospital, outside Dr's, etc. These are very important. Know that the prison will attempt to cover things up. Have a system in place so that other inmates know to contact you if something should happen to your inmate because the prison will take its time.

If you know or feel without a doubt that your inmate has a very good case- contact an attorney. They will review your situation and advise you if there is something there to file for. Litigation makes the DOCC angry, and many lawsuits are considered "frivolous" and if the DOC finds that your lawsuit is "frivolous" it can be used against your inmates goodtime.

Prisoners Legal Systems in Buffalo was a BIG FAIL in my situation. I personally do not recommend them. They take a long time to contact your inmate & communicate with you. Then weeks later the inmate may get a letter stating that for whatever reason they have chosen not to pursue your case & that they are very busy and have limited staff. Sorry.

In the Albany area I recommend your 1st step be the Center For Law & Justice. They were very helpful in telling me what I had to do as far as filing complaints, how long I had to file a Notice of Claim and who to call. They listened to my story and actually recommended that I call Prisoners Legal systems in Albany who had me call the Buffalo office (the BIG FAIL) and once I told the about the big fail they helped me in the next step- finding a good attorney who listened to my husbands exceptional story and took on the case.

Do not believe the prison.

Investigate on your own.

Report/file complaints.

Make sure that you are listed as his healthcare proxy.

If possible and if you are not already be sure to become his power of attorney.

Get medical records and research how to file complaints and what your inmates rights are! They have the right to the same medical treatment that they would typically receive on the outside if they were not incarcerated!

I wish everyone the best of luck and encourage anyone who has had a loved one incarcerated in Collins who has suffered medical neglect to share their story with me.

Last edited by Billswife2012; 08-22-2014 at 10:29 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-22-2014, 11:00 AM
xolady xolady is offline
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Thank you for posting this most don't take the time and its more important any post I've read in a long time. Bless you and your family!
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:37 PM
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Thank you for posting this information. I hope your husband continues to improve in spite of the prison's medical indifference. Very unfortunately similar horror stories happen all the time, and in a large number of prison systems. So does retaliation, but all we can do is the best we can do to fight it, and hopefully somebody will listen, some day.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:11 PM
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Just a note for those trying to contact the center for law and justice - do not confuse this organization with The American Center for Law and Justice, which is a conservative Christian organization that really supports mostly free speech and freedom of religion as they see it. They are pro life, and one of the firms associated with pro life picketers and the like.

The Center for Law and Justice is out of Albany, NY, though they have affiliations with others practicing in a variety of states. CLJ is a very cool organization, but it is so underfunded that they have recently cut their ability to respond to prisoner mail. Still, they are a wonderful resource, and can be found here: http://www.cflj.org/

Checl their link section, especially if you are in NY state.

For those of you outside of NY looking for legal help, DO NOT go to the website of the first advertiser you find. Instead, get a referral.

You can start the referral process by starting with the lawyers in your life. If you have a good relationship with the trial level criminal lawyer in your case, start there. If you used the PD, start with the other lawyers in your life - family law attorneys, real estate attorneys, wills/trusts/estate attorneys. Get more than one name from these people, research them, and then interview them. If you do not have an attorney in your life, you can look to your State chapter of the ACLU for a referral. Everybody knows an attorney, and attorneys know each other - we can and do make referrals for things like this. The worst thing you can do is click on some random advertisement, fill out a form, and hope that they take you seriously and get back to you in a timely manner.

Keep this in mind: you have a limited amount of time to file suit. Use your time wisely.
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