What most people don't understand is that the level of health care given to inmates in prison falls well below
the standards that ordinary people expect. The fact is that most of the people in prison have lived a harsher life than
an average of two people. Drinking, smoking, not eating right..this all takes a heavy toll on the human body over a
period of time. Not to mention the life that you have to live while you are in prison. There food alone here in
Tennessee is appalling, with more than enough fat in it to give you a coronary. Then, of course, you have
Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, AIDS and many other viral infections that will have your immune system battered to a pulp in
no time. The common cold can infect an entire institution in the span of a week since the people are so closely
confined with each other. It then goes around again as something else because it's had time to change into another
strain of virus, or maybe it's something else entirely. No one can really tell because it comes and goes so often.
You also have people who have to have medication just to survive. This can pose an entirely different set of
problems for an individual. I take medication myself, so I can speak from experience on this matter. It sucks. I've
been to the clinic several times only to find out that they don't have my medication in stock. I have to wait several
days until they get another shipment in. Sometimes when the visiting doctor orders a prescription for an individual, it
can take several days to get that prescription filled, as well. I guess I was lucky that none of my medical needs were
life threatening. But, don't think that there haven't been others who have died in these prisons and the only reason
being that they didn't receive one little pill. How can they justify a life gone just because someone failed to do their
There are also people who die because the officers or clinic staff aren't as prompt as they should be. Let's
face it, this is after all, a prison, so an individual understands there is to be an expected level of violence higher than
that on the streets. But how do you explain people that are found dead in their beds and have been there for almost
an entire day without being noticed? Or maybe the people who are sent away from the clinic without care and are
told that the medical staff will not see them at that time because it wasn't an emergency, only to walk about 50 feet and
drop dead? These are only a super small fraction of the incidents that I alone could mention. Almost every inmate has
a horror story of what he has seen at the clinic or has even happened to him personally. Fact is, I think almost all of us
know someone who has died in here or who is seriously messed up due to someone's incompetence in the clinic. I,
myself, had a friend named Bobby who is brain dead now due to a simple eye infection that could have been cured
with eyedrops. Now he can't even feed himself.
Following is a passage taken straight from the inmate handbook that is issued to every inmate upon arrival at
his/her new institution:
Health Care Problems are to be evaluated during regularly scheduled sick call, or at some time of an
emergency. Health care personnel will care for the inmate or refer the inmate to appropriate health care services.
Health care services include sick call, emergency care, professional services, special needs services and medical
distribution. When inmates initiate medical, nursing, dental or any other health related services attention, they will be
charged a co-payment of $3.00 for each encounter for a chargeable visit in accordance with TDOC policy.
Chargeable Visit: An encounter with institutional health services staff which is provided at the request of the inmate
either through sick call or unscheduled impromptu walk-in visit.
Non-Chargeable list: An encounter with institutional health service staff which is generated because of TDOC
policy or protocol as a follow up to a previously identified condition or because of an inmate's injury while performing
job related duties.
1. Sick Call: Sick call will be conducted once a day. All health problems, needs and complaints, (i.e., dental, eye,
orthopaedic, psychiatric, etc.), will be evaluated by health care personnel during sick call. Emergency situations will
be evaluated and treated by health care personnel immediately upon notification.
a. Sick Call Hours: Annex: 6:30 A.M.
Compound 6:00 A.M.
Segregation 6:15 A.M.
b. Sick Call Roster: Any inmate wishing to see health care personnel should sign a Sick Call Roster (Form CR-
1983) in his unit stating his name, number, housing unit, job assignment, and checking medical or dental attention
required. The compound sick call rosters will be delivered to the clinic at approximately 3:00 A.M. for sick call.
c. Sick Call Appointments: The clinic officer will call the housing unit officer to authorize inmates to report to the
clinic for sick call appointments. (Health care personnel will go to the segregated units to provide sick call.) Inmates
assigned to long lines or educations/industry complex who sign up for sick call will be called first. Inmates will not be
called from the ball field or gym for sick call. They will be called from official assignments only. Inmates will have only
ten minutes to report to the clinic from the time they are called by the clinic. Inmates who do not report to the clinic
will be considered as having "refused" sick call.
2. Emergency Care: An emergency is defined as any sudden illness, condition or situation which requires
immediate medical or psychological attention.
a. The person(s) having custody of the inmate at one onset of the illness, injury or condition shall notify health
care personnel of Central Control, providing a brief statement of the inmate's condition and location. Central Control
shall notify the clinic.
b. If possible, the health care personnel will have the inmate report immediately to the clinic for treatment; if
not, health care personnel will go to the location of the inmate.
c. Should health care personnel determine the inmate needs further care beyond the scope of S.C.C.C. health
services, the inmate will be transported to an outside medical facility.
3. Professional Services:
a. The following professional services are available at S.C.C.C., and patients are referred as appropriated to
these professional services through routine sick call or following emergency treatment: Physician, dentist, psychiatrist,
optometrist, clinical/counseling psychologist, psychological examiner, and mental health program specialist. Inmates
interested in any specialized group therapy may be referred by any staff member, or the man may complete and sen an
information request to the mental health program specialist.
b. Professional Services Available at DeBerry Special Needs Facility: Referrals for professional services that
are available at the DeBerry Special Needs Facility (listed below) will be made as indicated , by the S.C.C.C.
physician/dentist: Oral surgery, general surgery, orthopedic, ophthalmology, neurology, E.N.T. (ears, nose, throat),
dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, urology, prosthesis and podiatry. A geriatrics unit is available for those
inmates who cannot care for themselves (i.e. bathe, clothe or fee themselves).
4. Medication Call:
a. Inmates who pick up their medications at medication call which will coincide with the meal schedules. The
fourth medication call will begin at approximately 8:00 P.M. each evening and will be on call out basis per unit.
b. Segregation Medical Call: Medications will be distributed at approximately 6:00 A.M., 11:30 A.M., 4:00
P.M. and 8:00 P.M.
5. Medication Distribution:
a. Selected over-the-counter medication (up to a 3-day supply) may be distributed by licensed medical
personnel through sick call to inmates who have been seem at sick call, according to doctors protocol and orders for
inmate self-care or self administration. If the inmate requests additional medications within an unreasonable period of
time according to the judgement of licensed medical personnel, the man will be required to sign up on sick call.
b. Inmates who are prescribed medications may be prescribed up to a (30) day supply of medication
according to the doctor's protocol and orders, and the judgement of licensed medical personnel.
c. Controlled drugs, psycho tropic drugs, and any medications specified by practitioners orders or designated
on the inmate self-care plan will be given by licensed medical personnel dose-by-does. All such drugs will be given
"under water" when directed by the practitioner or when abuse is suspected.
6. Abuse of Medication: Should a security problem arise, such as failure to cooperate or abuse of the privilege of
the inmate self-care plan, the inmate may be required to obtain the medications dose-by-dose. In some instances
disciplinary actions may be taken in order. Examples of abuse or failure to cooperate include, but are not limited to
a. Failure to return unused medication or hoarding medication.
b. Failure to return the original container for prescription medications or alteration of prescribed orders.
c. Failure to take medications as prescribed and/or not picking up ordered medications.
d. Frequent requests for over-the-counter medication.
e. Giving Medication to others.
f. Refusal to sign "Self Care Program Log".
7. Clinic Rules:
a. An inmate must be called down by clinic staff or on medication call at the time indicated. The clinic
custodian is to be allowed access to the clinic at scheduled times.
b. The inmate must present his identification card before medicine will be distributed.
c. All emergencies will be referred to medical staff immediately.
d. All inmates will answer the call to the clinic within ten (10) minutes, unless extended time is deemed
necessary by the unit officer as in accordance with post orders.
e. An inmate may not bring food or drink into the clinic.
f. Inmates will wearing clothing as specified in Policy 504.05. State issue (stripes) pants and shirts and some
type if shoes must be worn in the clinic. Kitchen whites will be allowed only if the man comes to the clinic directly
from work. Shower shoes will not be allowed in the clinic.
g. Inmates must stay in the clinic once they have checked in until medical treatment is completed.
h. Inmates will check in with the officer upon arrival and will be seen in the order schedule by the medical
i. Prescription/non-prescription sunglasses will be removed upon entrance into the clinic unless the inmate has
a documented eye condition, illness, and/or injury which requires that a dark lens must be worn at all times as
determined by a licensed optometrist/ophthalmologist. (Sunglasses are defined as glasses containing lens tinted to the
point where pupils cannot be seen through the lens.
j. No smoking, tobacco products or matches will be permitted inside the clinic by inmates called to the clinic
or picking up medications.
k. Refusal forms must be signed if medical attention is not desired.
Look, just because these people put it in a book and say this is the way it is, doesn't mean that's how it's really
going to work when you get there. They want to charge you the $3.00 co-payment fee and send you on your way.
They aren't really trying to fix the problem.
Which brings me to another topic. What is this $3.00 co-payment plan? I find myself, and others like me, who
are not given basic medical attention because they sell some of the medical needs on commissary. Commissary?
What is that supposed to be? Let me get this right. They are going to charge me a $3.00 co-payment fee and then
tell me that I have to pay another $5.00 or $6.00 to buy my medicine from commissary, whenever that might be, so
that the Tennessee Department of Correction can make an additional profit separate from that which the outside
medical contractor that the state puts in these prisons, on commissary? Man, that's pretty crafty if you ask me. I'm
actually impressed. Now that has to be the work of a politician! But hey, if you';re going to make me buy my own
medicine off of the commissary, then how about giving me a pay increase? The thing is that inmates have not been
given a pay increase since the early 80's, yet inflation and the cost of living, even for prisoners has increased about five
times since then. How can a person buy all of the hygiene items that he needs to last through the month and still buy
stamps or even medicine. I just doesn't make sense. There are also those in here who would like to send money
home to our families and are unable to help out in any way. Why should our families suffer?
The Lost Boy