Friday, March 13, 2009

Visiting Karla

Karla's mother was finally able to go see Karla last week. She is in Dallas/FortWorth right now and is able to see Karla on the weekends. She will be staying for 3 weeks. Darlene(Karla's mother) has witnessed Karla having several seizures already(the B.O.P. had stated that Karla was not having seizures). Karla does have to go to the appointed visiting area to visit with her mother and it is very hard on her and exhausting. Darlene has commented that Karla is the only woman from the Carswell FMC that has a visitor.

Karla's radiologist requested that Karla see the Neurologist for her spasms 12 weeks ago, because they were interfering with the radiation treatments. She finally was able to see the Neurologist a week and a half ago. He prescribed a patch for behind her ear as he feels she is having extreme motion sickness. This was a week and a half ago and she still has not received the patch.


Karla was told by the Neurologist that her tumor is aggresive and that the Neurologist was going to request an early compassionate release for her. This is the first time Karla has been told by any medical personel exactly how serious her tumor is. Julie, Karla's sister, had to do the research from the medical information, that was sent to Senator Crapo, to find out what Karla's prognosis was. It was from Julie that Karla originally learned that her tumor was cancerous and aggressive. Karla was informed that the early release would not be for 12 weeks. Karla was scheduled to be released from prison in August because of good behavior. The early release will only cut 3 weeks off of this time. Could you imagine being diagnosed with cancer and not being told any information about what kind it is or how long you are expected to live? Or having to wait 3 1/2 months from your cancer diagnosis to find out how serious it is? We have been told that Carswell provides community standard care. Any medical community that provided care like that would have the pants sued off of them. Do prison inmates deserved to be medically neglected because they committed a crime?


Karla also told us that the water at the Carswell facility smells so strongly of chlorine that it makes them sick to drink it. They were melting the ice out of their ice machine to drink it(the water to the ice machine is filtered). This, however, has broken down and these ill hospitalized ladies have to buy all their drinking water if they want anything to drink that will not make them feel ill.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Letter about Karla

The following is part of a letter I sent to our attorney.

I will answer your questions the best I can. You asked when Karla was placed in solitary confinement. On the 14th of Jan, Karla stated (in her journal she sent us)that she was placed in solitary confinement the week before, because of her MRSA. I am guessing that she was placed in solitary either on the 8th or 9th of Jan., because on the 8th in her journal she stated that she was giving samples of her green sputum to the medical staff. I am assuming it would have been shortly after that. In her journal she stated that she received radiation treatment on the following days and she listed the number of treatment it was: 1/5, 1/6,1/7,1/8,1/9,1/12, and 1/14 which she listed as her 10th treatment, 1/23 listed as her 18th treatment, and 1/30 as her 22nd treatment. She specifically said she missed treatment on 1/28 and 1/31. I know there are some treatment numbers missing in the list, but she did not record them in her journal.
Julie spoke with Karla today(the 22nd of Feb.) and she said that she has missed 2 more days of treatment in a row and is having a bad turn due to this. It was requested by her radiologist (Dr. Lynasa) on Jan 18th, that Karla see a neurologist. She has not yet seen a radiologist. She is to see the neurologist to address her nerve pain, dizzy spells and spasms. Karla was prescribed Gabapentin for nerve pain when she was in Arizona, which gave her great relief, but was taken off of this when she arrived at Carswell. Her dizzy spells which trigger her spasms are becoming constant and severe. She has begun biting her tongue during these spasms, which is very troublesome. With these she experiences headaches, burning pain in her head, eyes and chest and arms. Karla was on steroids to help reduce swelling, but they abruptly took her off of it. Dr. Lynasa was very upset when he learned this, as the steroids are very important for Karla and also a person should be weaned off of steroids and never abruptly taken off.
We have requested Karla's medical information from Dr. Lynasa's office (the radiologist), but they would not release any information to us, saying that we would have to go through the prison. The prison of course is giving us the usual song and dance and we have obtained nothing from them. We would like Senator Crapo to request the release of Karla's medical charts on the behalf of us and Karla. Is this something he could do or put pressure on them for? Karla told Julie that she signed a "cop-out" form stating that she wasn't receiving adequate care at the facility and wanted to see an outside doctor. Karla was told by Dr. Lorenzi(her BOP doctor) that assistant warden Stone told Dr. Lorenzi to "take care of it". So to take care of it Dr. Lorenzi yelled at Karla for 15 minutes accusing her of trying to make the Dr. lose her job.
Karla was informed that she would be released in August because of good behavior, but she was also told that she will only be able to leave if she does so by walking out on her own. Karla was told that if radiation doesn't take care of the tumor she would also need Chemo. She was informed by the medical staff at Carswell that there a lot of people ahead of her in line for Chemo and that it would be quite awhile before she gets chemo(if this is community standard care, what's with the long waiting list for Chemo?). Karla was also told that if the radiation doesn't work that she will quickly go backward with out chemo, as the tumor grows and invades the surrounding tissue.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another journal from Karla

We received the following journal, kept by Karla, in the mail. We have been told by the BOP that she is not having spasms or seizures. Please note the number of times she talks about having spasms below. We were told by Karla, that the guards do not like taking her to radiation treatment, because they are afraid of her spasms. In the journal she speaks of waiting to see the neurologist. She is still waiting to this date to see the neurologist.

1-5-09 3rd treatment
1-6-09 4th treatment
1-7-09 5th treatment. I saw Dr. Lynasa today. He is submitting some medicine for my spasm or neck, not sure what. I was in so much pain I couldn’t concentrate.
I asked the nurse about not getting my Decatron at 5:00 a.m. She said she gave it to me. Well, by11:00 a.m. my spasm was so bad that my whole body spasmed, not just my left side, but both sides. I told Nurse Downey. Dr. Lorenzy tries to ignore me unless they have to talk to me. I feel like they only do when they have to.
1-8-09 Blood pressure 78/43
1-8-09 6th treatment. Coughed all night. Hacked up green stuff for 3 nights now. I told Nurse Downey that I thought I might be getting pneumonia…hard to breath. I have been giving samples of my hacking up green stuff . Dr. Lorenzi checked my lungs and said that I have to have antibiotics, Zpac. Two days now and no antibiotic, yet, maybe tonight.
1-9-09 7th treatment. I got my antibiotics. Feeling better.
1-10-09 The spasms come on like usual. First, the dizziness real bad. Then the real bad spasms. They started at 5 p.m. It is now 8:30 p.m. and they are still going strong.
Later: Still hurts the left side of my face with burning in the left side of my head, shoulder, hand, arm and back of my neck. Changed medication time on my steroid today. Not wanting to give it to me now, when I should be getting it at 9:30 and 5:00 am.
1-11-09 I spasm all day and stayed dizzy the whole time.
1-12-09 9th treatment. Spasm all day long. Mostly when I eat and cough(when I cough up the green stuff.)
1-13-09 Woke-up, no spasm until 8 a.m. Real bad dizzy and REAL Bad spasm. Took percocet.
1-14-09 Went to treatment today (Wednesday). I saw Dr. Lynasa. He said I needed the Neurologist for my spasms and medication. I told Dr. Lorenzy and she said she talked to Dr. Lynasa, also, today and I should get medication and the doctor of Neurology, YEA! My MRSA(antibiotic resistant staph) that I got last week ended(put) me in isolation. Its so cold in here. The air is always blowing real cold air. They changed my pain med today with out telling me again. I’m in pain now and I found out about it now, NOT RIGHT! The Doctor changed it again with out telling me again.
Later: Its been 1 ½ hours since I asked for medication and they didn’t tell me until I have my last time. She should have told me.
1-17-09 Last week I was taken down to 2 Oxci every 12 hours, pain or not. Same with Dexamiathine. NOT telling me why, just did it. Percocet e very 6 hours. My pain is still intense. I have to lay really still and not move so all day I stay in bed. The 15th they put me into isolation room. They ignore me. I can push the button and they don’t even answer until 15 min. later.
1-18-09 Spasms, maybe 10-15 times a day and all night.
1-19-09 Same as yesterday: bad spasm day and night.
1-20-09 I ask for more triazadone
1-21-09 They didn’t up it yet. Still up at 3:30 a.m. Feeling dizzy. I ask for I.B. profen and mectazine, because I have to wait 6 hours now for percocet. I buzzed at 3:30 p.m. No response. I called again at 4:15. Real bad head ache now and really dizzy. I waited until 5:00 p.m. and buzzed again. They turn my buzzer off. By this time my regular meds come at 6:00 p.m. Now I want my percocet.
1-23-09 18th treatment. I might see the neurologist and oncologist next week. I just told Julie that my Nurse is insensitive about me and my medication. Well, 4:00p.m. was my time to get it. Now, it is almost 6:00 p.m. I have real pain now. I can’t hardly see at times.
1-24-09 I had a spasm just now. It was so bad that my whole body hurts.
9:26 p.m. : I just asked for IB profen. I took my percocet at 4:30 a.m. this morning. The pain that the spasm gave me was so bad that my face went side ways and my side of my heart and left arm hurt and burn. My face stuck like that for a few minutes. It scared me. I did that only once and didn’t last that long. I told Nurse Corbett and she said “Yes, Fuller. There’s nothing I can do.” I said “I just want to tell you so someone knows what’s going on about my condition.”
1-25-09 I was buzzed at 6:00a.m. and asked if I want my melamine for dizziness. I said no because I don’t need it until 8:00-8:30 a.m. So Ms. Price waits for me. Well, Ms. Corbett comes in at 7:00 a.m. I ask at 8:00a.m. if I could get my mescaline. She said let me check if you got it at 6:00a.m. I said No I didn’t . So I wait. She doesn’t call me back. 9:20 I call back again. She said “Miss Fuller, she gave it to you at 6:00 a.m.” I said she didn’t. It doesn’t matter.
1-28-09 No treatment today. I have spasms and dizziness real bad today. When the spasm is done my left side of my tongue was numb, my arm all the way to my leg, my ribs and left side. The spasm hurt real bad. My head and neck burns, left side.
1-29-09 Spasm all morning, long and hard. Instead of breathing in and out once (to deal with the pain) now I have to breath in 3 times and out 3 times. I have the shakes so much that I can’t write.
1-30-09 22nd treatment. I had some spasms and dizzy. But not bad. Maybe 8 spasms and some dizziness. Good day and this weekend coming up I am going outside.
1-31-09 No treatment today. I spasm and dizzy real bad since 10:00 a.m.
2-6-09 Mecklazine(motion sickness meds. Compares to antihistamine) are take as needed and the nurses are so mean. They tell me that when its offered at 5:00a.m. with the rest of my meds, I need to take it. They get really busy in the morning and I may not get it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Waiting for Visitation

The papers we faxed to the Carswell facility ,concerning Karla, were finally faxed back to us. It took our Attorney contacting them to get them to fax the papers back. We are waiting on paperwork allowing Karla's mother to go visit her. We have been informed that Karla will not be given special visiting privileges and will have to go to the visiting room. If Karla can make it to the visiting room at all, her visits will be very short as she does not have the strength for a long visit. We were informed that since Karla goes out of the prison facility everyday in a car(with assistance, which exhausts her) to her radiation treatment, she does not need special visiting privileges. No one helps Karla with her wheelchair to the elevator , in order to get to the visiting room. A member of our church was to meet her there to give her a blessing, but she was unable to make it to the visitor's room. She was too exhausted.
We were informed that Karla has a staff infection in her lungs and is currently in isolation. She states that "as long as I hold perfectly still and don't move, then I don't hurt. I guess I will lay here and be a zombie".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

George Airforce Base

After some research we were informed that we had associated the wrong name with Victorville. It is not the Erin Brokovich story, but instead it is the story of the George Airforce base. The George Airforce base is about 22 miles from where the Erin Brokovich story took place. The base was closed in 1992. Jet fuel had been leaking in to the ground and had gone into the water systems making people ill. The military housing is across the road from the prison and is visible from the prison. The story is the same (that of a prison facility using water that is questionable) but the name is different.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lying Words

Following is an excerpt from a letter that was forwarded to us today by our attorney. It was sent from Senator Crapo's office. The Carswell staff say that Karla is faking her seizures and spasms. The poor girl is paralyzed on one side and has an aggressive brain tumor, where would she get the energy to fake a seizure every few minutes? Someone is lying........and it ain't us. It was asked, if we have been able to have access to Karla or the medical staff, now that the medical papers were signed. We are receiving calls from Karla again, but the staff will not talk to us. They do not answer the phone when we call and do not return messages. Also, the medical staff indicate that Karla can communicate clearly. That is an ambiguous statement. Is that using hand gestures and sign language? Karla's mother has a difficult time understanding her when she calls on the phone. Her words are slurred and difficult to understand. I was able to speak to her myself a few days ago. I was able to make out a little more than half of her conversation.

Wes,

I did have a chance to read the article you sent and found it to be disconcerting (I have forwarded it along to the appropriate staff in our organization). This morning, I received the following from BOP:

“Inmate signed medical consent forms. Family calls frequently.

Inmate Fuller, Karla is housed as an inpatient on the Medical/Surgical floor. She arrived December 9, 2009, (Tuesday) and was screened in by the Mid-Level Provider. She was followed up the next day by the Clinical Director her ordered her medications. A non-formulary request was submitted for Gabapentin (for pain) and she was prescribed this medication for pain until the decision by Central Office in which it was disapproved. She was also prescribed acetaminophen for pain. Once her Gabapentin was discontinued she was prescribed Oxycodone for pain. She has been evaluated by physical therapy and issued a permanent wheelchair. She is able to get around on her own on the floor in her wheelchair. She goes for radiation daily to an outside cancer center. She is able to get into a car with assistance and transported to the outside facility for radiation. Staff spoke to her on January 8, 2009, and she was able to communicate clearly. She did not display any sort of seizures or spasms during this encounter. Her physician and nurses taking care of her states she fakes spasms and seizures. She began radiation on January 2, 2009, and receives it daily for her brain stem anaplastic astrocytoma. At this time her prognosis is unknown, therefore she does not meet the criteria for a compassionate release. After her radiation treatment is complete and a followup MRI is performed, then her request for a compassionate release can be reconsidered.”

Now that the medical consent forms have been signed, have you had access to Karla and/or medical staff to ascertain her condition?

Thanks,

Peter

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Exposing Carswell

The following article was unearthed by my Dad. The article is about Carswell FMC(the same facilities that Karla is at). Is this a US facilities or Auschwitz? Prepare to have your stomach turned.

May 3, 2006 - Fort Worth Weekly (TX)
Taking The Cuffs Off At Carswell
A Retired Judge And A Former Staff Physician Are Demanding Reform At A Fort Worth Prison Hospital.
By Betty Brink
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"I believe there should be a congressional investigation and based on those findings, I would expect criminal charges to be filed against those persons who have inflicted pain and suffering on the inmates, as well as those in authority who condoned these practices. These women have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and their constitutional rights have been violated."
The speaker is no radical prison reformer, but a retired judge who spent 12 years on the state appellate bench in Texas, two years as Harris County district attorney, and more than a decade as a criminal defense attorney. And the inmates Ross Sears is describing are not being held in some distant dictator's jails, but in Fort Worth, at the Carswell Federal Medical Center for women.
Sears has become the latest to add his voice to the growing crowd of those expressing outrage at what is going on at Carswell, the only -- allegedly -- full-service federal prison hospital for women in the country. "Inmates have died under suspicious circumstances, they have been denied critical medical care and necessary medication, they have been given the wrong medication with serious results, they have been the victims of retaliation when they complain, and they have been assaulted and raped," he said. "I am convinced these events have occurred, and I am convinced Congress will do something about it. We treat prisoners suspected of terrorism better than Carswell treats its inmates, and we must make sure that those responsible for this inhumane treatment are themselves incarcerated."
The calls for investigation and reform at Carswell have been coming for years from those who spent time inside the prison hospital's walls, and from the families of its current and former inmates. But now, in addition to Sears, the howls of outrage are also coming from one doctor who saw the conditions at Carswell first-hand.
Dr. Roger Guthrie, former medical officer in Carswell's family practice clinic, last year took his complaints to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, after four years of trying to effect change from the inside. In his filing, Guthrie described repeated episodes in which he believes inmates were endangered or died unnecessarily because of medical mistakes, substandard care, and unconscionable delays, in a prison setting in which inmates were raped, documents falsified, records kept haphazardly, and taxpayer money wasted.
At least one of the cases of what he called medical malpractice apparently is now under investigation by the special counsel's office. "I have been called numerous times by the OSC investigator asking for more details on that case," Guthrie said.
Sears, too, is ready to take the Carswell case to federal authorities. He plans to take his extensive evidence of medical neglect and abuse to influential friends in Washington D.C. and to press for a full Congressional investigation. He's hoping the political connections he built during his years in state electoral politics can now be used to help one of the most politically powerless groups in the country -- the elderly, ill and dying women in the United States' federal prison system.
Calls and e-mails to Carswell spokeswoman Debra Denham, requesting comment for this story, have not been answered. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman did not call back with answers to specific questions. A request made to the bureau last August under the federal Freedom of Information Act has not been fulfilled.
Sears was drawn into the Carswell drama by the case of a client, Ramona Holcombe, for whom he is seeking a compasionate release, and who he said has been "grossly medically neglected and abused."
"And I fully expect," he added, "that those in control at Carswell will retaliate against Ramona Holcombe as they have against many other inmates who have been brave enough to speak out against this intolerable atrocity. If that happens, it will only confirm what these inmates have been telling anyone who would take the time to listen, and the legal system can repay those responsible."
The retaliation may have already begun, he said. Holcombe's request for compassionate release was just denied.
No wild-eyed radical prison reformer, the 73-year-old, white-haired Sears has spent most of his retirement years serving as a visiting judge and in dispute resolution cases, working quietly from his home in Missouri City just outside Houston. He knew nothing about the conditions at Carswell until a friend asked him to represent Holcombe, 66, who had been sent to Carswell in 2002 following her conviction for a white-collar crime.
"I was appalled at what she told me," he said.
Holcombe's implausible route to prison was traced by Sears and the mutual friend, Kathy Daic of Houston, in a recent conference call. Holcombe, whom Daic has known for 15 years, had founded a charity in West Virginia to raise money to open a lakeside retreat for abused women and children. She was married, the mother of four grown children and seven grandchildren. "She was very trusting and naïve," Daic said. In 1998, Holcombe was approached by two men who promised her she could make hundreds of thousands of dollars for her retreat if she would help them find investors for what Sears says was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, Holcombe bit, and her legitimate charity was used as a front until the scheme collapsed. In 2001, Holcombe and one of the men were convicted of fraud. The other one is still on the run.
Sears and Daic are both convinced that Holcombe was as much a victim as those who invested. "She was used, her charity was used, and when Ramona realized what had happened, she took what money she had and paid back some of the investors," Sears said. Still, a federal jury found her guilty of fraud and sentenced her to eight years.
A prison sentence, however, turned out to be only the beginning of her troubles. Her husband died just before she started serving her sentence. And shortly after she arrived at the Victorville federal facility near Adelanto, Calif., she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In a telephone interview from Carswell, backed up by copies of her medical documents, Holcombe told Fort Worth Weekly the story that appalled Sears. In late October 2001, she had a mastectomy of her left breast at a hospital near the California prison. Doctors inserted an inflatable disc in the empty pocket to allow the skin to grow, stay pliable, and stretch until she could undergo reconstructive surgery. The process requires careful monitoring by a surgeon in two-week intervals as the skin stretched and healed, until the insert could be removed and a saline implant inserted, according to her medical reports. The procedure must be done "in three to six months," one doctor wrote. If infection develops, he wrote, the temporary disc must be removed "within 24 hours."
Back in prison, Holcombe said, the insert began deflating and the plastic rim pushed painfully into her chest cavity. Nothing was done about it in California; instead, in April 2002, she was sent to Carswell, with the assurance that there she would receive all of the care she needed.
Once at the Texas prison facility, "I was seen by Dr. [Roger] Guthrie," she said. Her breast tissue was breaking down and the plastic ring had punctured her skin, causing an infection. Guthrie was able to get her to a plastic surgeon by May, who told her that she needed immediate surgery to replace her damaged breast tissue. But it wasn't until the end of August that her surgery was finally approved by Carswell "after many months of pain," the inmate said.
By then the plastic ring was protruding from her skin and the surrounding area was still badly infected. The surgeon removed the rim and took skin and muscle from her back to repair and replace the damaged breast tissue. Reconstructive surgery was no longer an option, she was told, because the long delay in treatment had caused irreversible damage to her breast tissue. The medical reports also show that a "hardened diseased capsule" had to be removed from under the temporary disc. Now, instead of a new breast on her left side she has a large sac of fatty tissue under her left arm due to fluid build-up, a still-painful scar that goes from her chest to the middle of her back and an "ugly, hard, small knot" where her left breast used to be. She is still in constant pain, she said, and "disfigured for life."
Holcombe also arrived at Carswell badly in need of knee surgery. When she was finally taken to an outside hospital, she was told by the doctor that for full recovery she needed a complete knee replacement, but that Carswell would only pay for orthroscopic surgery. The partial fix has left her unable to walk. "I am now wheelchair-bound," she said. And at Carswell, being stuck in a wheelchair can have dire consequences for inmates.
Holcombe is housed on the fifth floor at the prison hospital, with 90 other patients, about half in wheelchairs, she said. All of the women have to get themselves downstairs to the first floor to go to sick call for their medicines and to the cafeteria for their food. "We are down to three working elevators," out of six, she said. Since one elevator holds five wheelchairs and the others hold no more than two, "It is impossible for many of us in wheelchairs to get our meds or get to the cafeteria to eat because they close everything down before we can get there."
One ex-inmate, Barbara Winton, described the fifth floor as being "the twilight zone." The women there looked like "walking skeletons, zombies," she said.
Holcombe said Carswell officials wouldn't let her take the vitamins and mineral supplements that she had been using to keep her cholesterol down, but apparently have no such ban on pain medications. "They are always pushing drugs on us, Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin" -- all of them narcotic painkillers -- "we can get those whenever we want." Holcombe, who said she turns down painkillers, believes such drugs are made readily available in order to keep the women sedated and under control. In the meantime, she said, her "bad" cholesterol level has soared from 165 to 266, high enough to put her at substantial risk of heart disease.
Holcombe not only opened Sears' eyes to her medical horror stories, she also passed on to him the stories of the other women that she knew. Sears began to document the cases -- in part through contacts provided by the Weekly's stories on Carswell dating back to 1999. He started talking to inmates and their families, like the children of Sharon Macauley, who were devastated to learn in December that their 67-year-old mother had died following hip surgery at John Peter Smith Hospital, the outside contract hospital for the prison.
Macauley, who was in the horse business in California, was incarcerated for taking part in an illegal horse-selling enterprise. She was sent to Carswell in 2004 because of a pre-existing heart condition, and was due to be released late this year. While at Carswell, she fell and broke her hip.
Her son Rich told the Weekly that he and his four siblings didn't even know his mother was having surgery until they were called by Carswell to tell them she was dying. They got flights to Fort Worth right away, Rich said, but she died an hour before they arrived. "It gave them time to get the handcuffs off that she must have had on because of the deep bruises on her wrists," he said.
Since then, the family's grief has been turned to anger by the prison's stonewalling of their requests for information about Macauley's death. At first they were told that there would be an autopsy by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office, as was once routine for all deaths outside the prison. "We thought that at least we would get some answers," Rich Macauley said. But when he called the county coroner, "I was told the county never does the prison's autopsies." His calls to the prison since then haven't been returned. "To this day, we haven't found out one thing," he said. "It's like she disappeared off the face of the earth. This boggles my mind. I would have never believed this could be happening in my country."
Autopsies have been a problem for another family. When 28-year-old Mari Ayn Sailer died in her bed at Carswell in September 2005, following days of complaints to the doctors and nurses of difficulty breathing and other flu-like symptoms that were ignored, her family asked for an autopsy. They -- and the Weekly -- were told that it would be done by Tarrant County. When the Sailer family called the county office, they were told that Carswell had cancelled the autopsy, telling the medical examiner's office that the prison would do the procedure. To date, the family has never received any autopsy results. Officials told the Weekly that the county quit doing the prison's autopsies two years ago.
Guthrie, who is no longer with the prison, said Bureau of Prisons policy is clear: Autopsies must be performed whenever there's a death at a prison, preferably by the coroner in the county where the prison is located.
Guthrie and Sears want an investigation of the deaths of women like Sailer and Macauley, whose families want answers. But they worry even more about women who are still hanging on at Carswell, in desperate need of medical care they're not getting.
"I don't want to die. ... Time is not on my side." The words are from a letter Tracy Sanchez wrote to President George W. Bush in September, pleading for a pardon for her crimes. It is her last resort.
Sanchez is not on death row -- at least not in the traditional sense. Since 2003, she has been an inmate at the Carswell Federal Medical Center. The 36-year-old mother of five from Utah suffers from a rare, genetic kidney disease and is facing death in less than a year unless she gets a kidney and liver transplant. She knew her crime was wrong, she wrote, but it was not a death penalty case. "Why should I now be required to pay with my life?"
Sanchez is in her third year of a 30-year sentence for her role in a narcotics ring that operated mostly out of a Mexican import shop she helped run in Ogden. But without the transplant, her doctors say that Sanchez will never leave the prison alive. She is suffering from end-stage renal failure due to a disease known as primary hyperoxaluria, or oxalosis. In 30 years of practice, Sanchez's renal specialist Charles Andrews said, he has seen only three cases of it. Sufferers are born with an enzyme deficiency that allows oxalic acid to build up in the kidneys, binding with calcium to form hard, crystal-like deposits that "plug up the kidneys" and eventually spread into all of the patient's tissues, he said. The condition is characterized by severe pain and leads to kidney failure, irreparable liver damage, cardiac arrhythmia and death. For now, Sanchez is being kept alive through dialysis, but that is a temporary fix.
Sanchez was diagnosed in 1997 after her sister Amanda died of complications of the same disease. At the time of her arrest in 2000, Sanchez was on a waiting list at the University of Nebraska for the double transplant, a slot she lost following her conviction. Two of her Utah doctors wrote to the judge in Sanchez's trial urging continued aggressive treatment for her disease while in custody, including the transplant; otherwise, they said, she would face "kidney failure and death." One wrote that "for the sake of her health ... her management would be a lot safer and easier outside the prison system." That didn't happen. She was sent to Carswell by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball of Salt Lake City, who assured her, according to court transcripts, that she would "receive the best medical care available" at the federal hospital -- including being put on a transplant list in Texas.
"It is an unfortunate social fact," Andrews told the Weekly "that she got lost" in the system from the time of her arrest until Andrews saw her at Carswell three years later. By then, the specialist said, her disease was significantly advanced. In July 2004, Andrews wrote to Carswell medical director Tecora Ballom that Sanchez then faced a life expectancy of less than two years without a liver and kidney transplant. If the prison was not willing to provide the procedure, he urged that she be granted compassionate release "where she can return to the outside support systems that may be able to provide the necessary transplant ... ."
Thus began a grindingly slow process by which the Bureau of Prisons dealt with her request. Finally, 16 months later, in November 2005, the bureau allowed her medical records to be sent to the Baylor Regional Transplant Institute so she could be evaluated for a transplant. It was a rare victory for a Carswell inmate. In the 12 years the hospital has been open, no transplant has ever been approved.
But it was too late. The Baylor staff determined that Sanchez's disease was by then too far advanced for a transplant to save her life. Andrews, who is a contract physician for Carswell and has treated Sanchez since 2003, appealed the Baylor decision but was again turned down. Her former doctor in Utah, Martin Gregory, her federal public defender attorney Vicki King-Mandell, and Andrews urged the prison to approve compassionate release in order to allow her to go home and be re-evaluated by another transplant team that might result in a different outcome. Or at the least, "allow her to go home and be with her children," King-Mandell said.
That request was denied in February. The Bureau of Prisons' general counsel, Kathleen Kenney, wrote to Carswell Warden Ginny Van Buren that while Sanchez's medical condition made her eligible for such a release, the seriousness of her crime "made it inappropriate to release [her.]" In spite of the fact that her medical records show that she is on dialysis three times a week, is wheelchair-bound, has blurred vision, suffers from neuropathy, frequent nausea, blood pressure drops, has had three surgeries to replace her catheter, and on many days is "too ill to get out of bed," Kenney wrote that Sanchez still had "her ability to re-offend, if released." In a Kafkaesque afterthought, she noted that Sanchez's "projected release date is Dec. 15, 2024, via Good Conduct Time." Or a miracle.
Kenney did not return calls from the Weekly. Sanchez appealed to Judge Kimball for relief. On April 7, he wrote that after sentencing, he lacked authority to overturn a Bureau of Prison's decision.
The prison agency touts the medical care at Carswell as "comparable to community standards." Yet in more than seven years of reporting on Carswell, the Weekly has documented an ongoing pattern of medical incompetence, neglect, bureaucratic indifference, and sexual abuse that has caused months and years of unnecessary suffering to some inmates, shortened lives, and contributed to untimely deaths.
One of the women in that pattern was inmate Darlene Fortwendel, 49, who died on April 26 in a hospital in Tell City, Ind., surrounded by her family. Her rare liver cancer was misdiagnosed at Carswell for months and then, inexplicably, never treated. In August 2005, after a long battle waged by her tenacious sister, Fortwendel was sent home under compassionate release. "We are thankful that we had her here at home for these last months," sister Angie Garrett said, "but we will always believe that Carswell was reponsible for her suffering and her death."
In every such case reported by the Weekly, the charges have been documented by some combination of hospital records, transcripts of court proceedings, letters and documents and interviews from those directly involved.
In 1999, inmate Cynthia Lyda walked into Carswell with a psychiatric disorder but was otherwise healthy. Today, according to Dr. Guthrie, she is confined to a wheelchair, unable to dress herself or even find her way to the cafeteria. She sustained irreversible brain damage following a two-hour seizure last year that another prison doctor ignored because he believed she was faking, Guthrie said. By the time the doctor decided the seizure was real and sent her to the emergency room at an outside hospital, she was almost dead. The 39-year-old woman spent several weeks at Huguley Memorial Medical Center in intensive care before being sent back to Carswell "severely brain-damaged due to [the] delay. ... She can't do anything for herself," Guthrie said.
A medical professional ignoring a seizure is one outrage, he said. The greatly increased cost of her care, now and for the rest of her life due to such negligence, is another. Guthrie's anger extends to the prison, which took no disciplinary action against the doctor or held anyone responsible.
Believing that an inmate is faking is the rule, not the exception, at Carswell, he said. "It is common among the staff to think that every woman who presents herself at sick call is initially faking," he said. The end result of such an attitude has been "too many cases of either brain damage or death," the Colleyville physician said.
Guthrie no longer works at Carswell. "I got fired on trumped up charges," he told the Weekly, "because they knew I was about to blow the whistle on the inmate abuse and the huge waste of taxpayer dollars going on at that place."
The Lyda case is just one of many that Guthrie cited in the complaint he filed last June with the U. S. Office of Special Counsel, the agency set up to investigate federal employees' whistleblower complaints. Included among the details he provided of medical and bureaucratic failings and illegal conduct at the prison hospital was his description of an appalling system for keeping medical records.
Staff meeting reports and assignments are verbal, he said, with no written records kept, and results of emergency room visits are not recorded. Requests for outpatient surgeries and trips to specialists are often delayed or lost. Biopsy reports take weeks to be returned to physicians. Cardiology workups for surgery take six months.
Guthrie was the family practice doctor for the entire hospital population -- about 500 patients at any given time. He was fired in April 2005 in spite of a file filled with outstanding evaluations. The file is also filled with his memos complaining to Warden Van Buren and medical director Ballom, almost from day one of his hiring, about the incidents of misconduct and waste that he listed in his federal complaint. "It is no secret that I was going to blow the whistle if things didn't change there," he said.
But before he got his chance to do so, he was injured in an accident at work. While Guthrie was at home on sick leave, Van Buren wrote to him that his contract would not be renewed. Two Catch-22 cases were cited. He was blamed because one of his patients had to wait six months for a thyroidectomy -- due to lost paperwork by the hospital committee that must approve surgery requests. The other had to do with a patient who refused to take her thyroid medicine. He was written up by the medical director, he said, for refusing the director's order to correct the problem by "increasing the dosage of the meds that [the patient] wasn't taking in the first place."
"Carswell is run by a bunch of incompetents, and those few [health care professionals] who want to practice good medicine either leave in disgust or get fired, like I did," he said.
Guthrie, 57, joined the staff at Carswell in 2001 as a general practice medical officer after quitting a nearly 30-year career as an obstetrician-gynecologist and family practitioner in Hurst. By then, he had delivered more than 3,000 babies, he said, and survived a messy lawsuit over the death of one infant after a particularly difficult delivery. "I was tired," he said. "I was ready to let someone else do the paperwork and take the risks." He lasted four years at the federal center, but he started almost immediately to wonder just what he had gotten into.
Right away, he began to witness -- and document -- what he said was a hospital out of control: incompetent medical care, cover-ups of medical mistakes, hustling near-death inmates off-site so that the hospital's death statistics would look better, and an overworked staff. Many doctors and nurses who resigned or were fired were not replaced, he said. By the time Guthrie left, six physicians from the required staff of eight had left (one was kicked out for sexual abuse of inmates) and only three of the six openings had been filled.
Worse, he said, the health profession's credo to "do no harm" was callously ignored. In his whistleblower complaint, Guthrie laid out a litany of what he called medical malpractice cases that he witnessed -- everything from an inmate with a fractured hand that went undiagnosed for four weeks in spite of her continuing trips to sick call with complaints of pain, to patients "too numerous to count" who waited as long as 15 months for badly needed hysterectomies and hip replacements. Cancers were routinely misdiagnosed or were not diagnosed until it was too late due to lengthy delays between tests and test results. The patient who waited six months for goiter surgery in the case used to fire him, he said, developed heart trouble because of the delay. "It was frustrating as hell."
But the case that caught the attention of the special counsel's office, he said, was Lyda's.
"What happened to her is an outrage, morally and financially, and I'd love for a lawyer to have been called," Guthrie said. But there has been no outcry, he said, because Lyda's family has abandoned her. She has been diagnosed with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a disorder in which a person seeks attention by causing someone they are caring for to be constantly ill. In 1999, Lyda pleaded guilty after being caught on a hospital video monitor tampering with the feeding tube of her critically ill 5-year-old son, nearly killing him. By 2007 her sentence will be finished, but she will have to be institutionalized somewhere for care. The special counsel's office, he said, is now the only avenue of holding accountable those responsible for her condition.
Loren Smith, head of the OSC office of public affairs said he could not "confirm or deny" that any official investigation is in progress.
Guthrie was also under the gun, he believes, because of a couple of embarrassing memos he wrote on Feb. 24, 2004, a day after the alleged suicide by hanging of inmate Linda D'Antuono Fenton ("Hospital of Horrors," Dec. 19, 2005). An attempted suicide is the worst thing that can happen in a prison hospital, he said. It goes to the heart of what is known as a "sentinel event," in medical parlance a death or serious injury at a hospital caused by neglect, deliberate or accidental, on the part of the staff.
Hospitals are expected to report such incidents. In the United States, he said, "studies show that about 100,000 people die every year due to medical mistakes. But Carswell with its high-risk patients, known rapes, documented cases of medical malpractice, unexplained deaths and attempted suicides, hasn't reported a sentinel event in the last ten years, including Fenton's [death]."
Guthrie was the doctor who responded to the code-blue call the morning that Fenton was found unconscious in a cell with a sheet knotted tightly around her neck. He was also the official recorder of the incident. In memos to Ballom, made available to the Weekly, he charged that he was asked by two prison officers to change the "times of record and response" recorded in his medical report: "I was asked by [the officers] to change the time that I arrived on the scene from eleven [a.m.] to eleven-thirty." He refused.
Guthrie believes he was asked to falsify his report in order to make it appear that he arrived on the scene only shortly before outside paramedics showed up. However, the physician said, the paramedics didn't arrive until long after he reached Fenton's room. When Guthrie arrived, he thought she was dead. But he and others worked on her and got her heart started and some level of breathing, he said, before the outside paramedics arrived. Guthrie said he found out later that the emergency ambulance personnel weren't called until 40 minutes after Fenton was found. She died eight days later at Fort Worth Osteopathic Medical Center without ever regaining consciousness. Guthrie said he has no idea how long she had lain near death and unnoticed before he was called. But medical reports from Osteopathic, which has since closed, say she had probably been unconscious for as long as 45 minutes before measures were taken to revive her.
Fenton's prison psychiatrist, William Pederson, told Guthrie the inmate had threatened suicide two days before she was found. If the threat was true, Guthrie said, "then why wasn't she on suicide watch?" According to Guthrie and the prison system's own rules on suicide threats, Fenton should have been placed in a glass-enclosed room with no sheets and under 24-hour surveillance. "She was not. She was found alone in a single room on the psychiatric floor. There was no one watching her. ... We were called to [that floor] because we were told it was a suicide by hanging. ... She wasn't hanging, but there was a sheet wrapped around her neck."
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's report ruled her death a suicide based primarily on the prison hospital authorities' account of events, but her family obtained an independent autopsy report that says her neck injuries are consistent with her having been placed in a choke hold. They have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bureau and called on the FBI to investigate,
The charge that Guthrie was asked to change the response times on his report is being hailed by her family and attorneys as proof that something very bad happened that day that the prison is trying to cover up. Any way you look at it, Guthrie said, whether it was suicide or, as her family believes, she was killed by others, deliberately or by accident, "Fenton's death occurred because of Carswell's neglect and incompetence and the prison is trying to cover that fact up.
"It was a 'sentinel event' in every definition of such a thing," Guthrie said, "but at Carswell, it never even happened."
You can reach Betty Brink at bcbrink@sbcglobal.net
Original article, with pictures, is at: http://www.fwWeekly.com/content.asp?article=3881
Copyright 2007 FW Weekly

Friday, January 9, 2009

Papers are Signed

It has become apparent, through 2 more phone calls from Karla, that the medical staff at Carswell, FMC told her no Doctor would want to help her, once she was released. Julie had to convince Karla that we do have treatment lined up for her and that she WILL NOT be denied treatment once she is released. Fortunately, Karla did sign the compassionate release papers. Now we just have to wade through the red tape while the papers pass through several different hands. This is the time for all of you, particularly those in other states than Idaho, to call your Senator and House of Representatives and ask them to support Senator Crapo in his efforts. If you go to http://www.senate.gov/ you can find your Senator's email or phone number. http://www.congress.org/ can help you find your House of Representatives' contact information.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

News From Karla!

We were getting very concerned about Karla, having not heard from her for 5 days. After much prayer and anxiety, to our relief and joy, we received a phone call from her today. She sounds stronger than she did before and she said that she is feeling better. She is receiving radiation(however, she should be receiving chemotherapy along with that). She said that the medical staff told her that some paperwork was sent to her to sign. Julie emphasized to her to sign the papers, that they were her compassionate release forms. May the red tape be removed!

A Letter from Karla's Attorney to Sen. Crapo's Office

Peter: I am forwarding to you the letters sent by Karla to her family backing up what we already know. It seems that she made these notes on a regular basis, which creates a contemporaneous record. I am very concerned that Karla has been restricted from calling her family for five days now, either by over medication or simply by denial of access to the telephone. Is she in such poor physical shape that she cannot pick up the phone? Could a nurse assist her in making the call? Dr. Maria Douglas was supposed to fax back the POA and DNR after it was signed. When she did not do so it makes me wonder if she actually got it signed. Is Karla in such bad shape that she cannot sign these papers. They were very anxious to have her sign a DNR, maybe they intend to use that paper if they get rid of her? We need to know now if she is alive and what is her present condition. This BS about not letting her speak freely to her family about her medical condition is wrong and verges on a criminal act on their part. Can you get a condition report on Karla and find out if the papers, including the Request for Compassionate Release has been signed by Karla? When Karla was first diagnosed with the cancerous tumor that was caused by the chromium 6 in the water at the Victorville facility, the prison staff was livid and wanted to know how the family knew of her medical condition and how they knew she was in the hospital in Phoenix because they were trying to keep it a secret and they wanted to cover it up. Actually, Karla had called her family from the hospital, but when the family used the caller ID number to return the call to get more information, the hospital staff had no record of Karla being there. It is a part of the cover up not to allow the hospital to keep a record of her treatment. A prisoner's health condition is not a secret, nor should it be. It is not a matter of national security, it is a matter of the staff trying to cover up their neglect and abuse or worse, covering up for deliberately exposing Karla to a cancer producing condition. Possibly the staff is trying to cover up sending prisoners to Victorville when they knew or should have known of the cancer water. The staff has also been trying to cover up their maltreatment of Karla throughtout December by threatening to put her in the box for being a troublemaker when her family contacted you; by telling Karla they had a policy that inmates could not discuss their health with the outside world, such as family members and by making her sign a contract, under duress, not to make any such disclosures and then cutting off her phone call when she did. The only purpose that it serves not to disclose information is to protect the BOP from exposure to civil liability for abuse and neglect. Is this a part of an aggressive risk management scheme, to cover up the truth from the beginning. What are they thinking?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In Shackles

When Karla was in the Women's prison camps, she often went to work at sites outside of the prison facilities. This was done on a bus with no shackles on the inmates. There wasn't even fencing outside of the facilities to keep them in. Then may I ask why, when she was admitted to Carswel FMC, her hands and feet were shackled as she rode on a gurney? She was paralyzed on one side of her body and unable to walk, yet they shackled her hands and feet. Karla said this caused excruciating pain from the pressure of the chains on her highly sensitive skin and nervous system.

A Letter From Karla

Today Julie received a letter from Karla. Karla was trying to keep track of her treatment. Her handwriting in the letter was very messy, and you could see her writing deteriorating as the days went by and her pain increased. I typed the letter and am posting it here. The letter was the sent the 5th of Jan. That is last time we have heard from her. Karla's letter is as below:



12-16-08
*Need pain med. renewed
*ocicotin
*morphine(2x) every 2 hours
*wheel chair(slip)
*have trouble swallowing my throat sometimes won't let me swallow
*trouble sleeping, stay up because spasm come and go like back to back
*my pain came way before the medications are passed out

12-16-08
Around 10 pm I was having different kind of pain. I couldn't hear. My pain is in the left side of my face, stinging, burning pain. My vision went really blurry. I saw the doctor that was here. He just gave me percocet and let it go. I don't know if it is the same or not, but at this moment I feel that it is getting worse or changing. My pain is all night, because I lay down. I sleep in between pains. I sit in the chair sometimes, because I'm afraid to get in bed. I feel when they start the radiology it will relieve the pressure that makes me spasm. The other doctor from when my blood pressure is up, no meds. Up and down all the time.(165-200-170..blood pressure numbers)

December Tuesday the 16th, 2008
Phoenix had said that may not be soon, like tomorrow, but will help on getting radiation. But for now I need pain relief and I'm not getting it.

Dec 19th
I had a real bad night, I asked for the nurse and the doctor. They took a heart monitor(EKG) and said that i was having anxiety attacks, but in the middle of it I had a spasm. The spasm threw the wires on to my stomach. Nurse Evans said that when I stop spasming she will come back and then left me. I asked for a doctor, they both said I was having an anxiety attack. My heart was having sharp pains. My main problem was my tumor in my neck and throat. It has become more intense. My face burns more, my neck hurts, more and I'm getting no sleep.

12-20-08
I go to lay down, my neck starts to burn, tightens up, my neck starts to hurt, then my head hurts real bad. It burns my face, my eyes. It hurts my chest all the way to my arm and hand.
All day long I have double vision. I can't stand up on my own.

Sun 21, 2008
Up all night between spasms. No sleep, very weak. Feeling out of breath right now.

12-23-08
asked for more nuxsotin for neck and they took my gaviton.

12-24-08
My blood pressure was 88/64
Day?my nurse took my oxygen reading for my heart, because I was complaining of my heart hurting, because of a spasm. Well, my blood pressure was 200 over something..I can't remember what the other was. All day long I feel dizzy, nauseous, double vision.

12-27-08
171/101

12/28/08
165/106
155/?

12-28-08
I've been breathing with my spasm, its hard. At night I sleep real still, try not to move my head or body.

12-24-08
I had a good night, 4:30 am I get my meds. and I have been having pains sharp in the neck, eyes, the head real bad.

12-23-08
I ask my 5:00 pm I told Nurse Cobert that I need my pain medications. Can she bring it as soon as she can? She said"ok". I was in so much pain. She said in 1 hour it was due. I said ok. At 6:00pm I called again, I got another nurse at 6:33 pm. I finally got my medication. They don't care if I am in pain or not.

12-24-08
I wrote a cop-out to Dr. Lorenzy, to go to the hospital. That I can't take the pain. The medication and the pain med is not doing the job, its extended to do that. I need to see someone. That is who knows what and how to treat my condition. I have asked over and over again to some of my nurses that I go to the hospital, cause my pain is so bad and I even talk with the night time Dr. They act like they don't care at all. I'm tired, so tired. Can't eat, can't sleep. I'm weak. I hurt in my chest under my left boob.
Look how bad my handwriting is compared to the first pages I wrote.

12-30-08
When I first got here the spasms were just on my left side, my head, my neck,my eye, my chest my arm, my hand all the way to my leg and foot. Now(12-30-08) the spasms are giving me the cold and hot tingle(cold tingle but hot burn) on both sides.

12-30-08
First radiations treatment. Doctor said, Dr. Lorenzy has to set me up for the Neurologist about my spasms. My Doctor Lorenzy said she was going to wait until after my radiation, he wanted it now!

1-2-09
Since the radiation, the pain has moved to the left face and left hand. It burns more than ever and hurts my temple of my eye and my upper teeth, sinus burns bad.

1-1-09
I was having the spasms and it was about 2 hours of the pain, I get so tired of doing it, that my body just limps, no muscle to hold my head up. Well, I had my head in a pillow trying to breath, I couldn't pull my head up and almost smothered myself. No more pillow.

1-3-09
Blood pressure 86/54. These spasms have been in my temple of my head. It burns bad. It hurts in my chest and arm. It feels like heart attacks, cause its sharp like knives, its hot like fire, but a cold numb.

Request for Compassionate Leave

The following is part of the application for Compassionate leave that was applied for today. It is quite long, but I felt it was full of pertinent information. In the forms that were sent to the BOP today, was a request that the staff have Karla call her family TODAY. We have not heard anything from her yet. We are praying that her application will be accepted.

a. Karla suffers from a tumor at the base of her skull affecting her entire nervous system which is rapidly growing and destroying her ability to ambulate and communicate, and causes her sever pain, spasms and seizures which occur every few minutes.
b. This tumor was recently diagnosed after Karla had been incarcerated by the U.S. BOP facility Adalanta, near Victorville, CA, which is a privately operated women’s prison across the street from the town of Victorville, CA, a municipality that now has been abandoned, closed down, boarded up and fenced off because of the presence of hexavalent chromium or “chromium 6” contamination of the ground water table and domestic water supply.
c. It is believed that Karla contracted the brain cancer from exposure to water at the Victorville facility where she worked in collecting water specimens for a laboratory that tested the water. As early as February 2008 she was complaining of sever headaches but was misdiagnosed with Bells Palsy as she had a deformation of her face. She was placed on an anti-depressant and the sever brain tumor and cancer were ignored. May 23, 2008 Karla was shipped to FCI Phoenix to enter a drug education program; it was late July or August before she entered said drug program with the requirement that she complete 500 hours before her release, which would have been by late March 2009, if she had been able to attend all classes. Karla’s symptoms were worsening throughout this period, she was fainting and complained of numbness in both her arms and legs, with headaches worsening and inability to concentrate. She regularly requested to see a doctor and was told her symptoms were caused by anxiety and her request was denied. He pain was so sever by November 2008 and she was sent for a CAT scan which imaged a tumor and then a biopsy was done.
d. The prison facility FCI Phoenix where she was transferred after Victorville performed the biopsy on said brain tumor, located deep at the base of her skull touching her spinal cord, in late November 2008. The doctor in charge of her case recommended radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. While at FCI Phoenix She was given Morpheme, which successfully controlled the pain.
e. Karla was transferred to FHC Carswell, near Ft. Worth, Texas because she was told that the cost of such radiation treatment would be “cheaper” for the U.S. Government. Upon her arrival at the Texas facility in early December, 2008, Karla was not having tremors, spasms or seizures. Because she arrived on a weekend, there was no physician to write a prescription for her. The pain, tremors, spasms and seizures started running out of control over the weekend and have continued, getting worse ever since. When she was given a prescription, it was only for Percocet, a codeine based drug that created side effect which aggravated her symptoms. She was allergic to codeine.
f. For the first four weeks of her incarceration at FMC Carswell, Karla was denied Morpheme as her body continued worsening with tremors, spasms and seizures. As these symptoms became worse and she requested and then begged for Morpheme, she was told by employees at FMC Carswell that she was “drug seeking” meaning that she wanted drugs for recreational purposes and did not have a real need for the drugs. Karla was ridiculed by the staff of FHC Carswell and held up or derision as her body went into spasms; the staff actually laughed at her. The staff also threatened Karla with being placed in the “Box” or solitary confinement because her family had complained about her treatment to U.S. Senator Michael Crapo who was looking into her situation. The key is that as soon as Karla signed the form authorizing Sen. Crapo’s office to obtain information about her, she was called a “trouble-maker” by the staff.
g. With regard to cancer therapy, while in FCI Phoenix, Karla was informed that radiation treatments should begin shortly after she arrived in Texas in early December 2008 because of the need to slow down the fast growing tumor and to begin the process of shrinking it before it caused serious damage to her nervous system.
h. In early to mid-December 2008, while at FMC Carswell, Karla’s pain became worse day-by-day and the only medications she was given (an ineffective muscle relaxer and a codeine based drug) made her symptoms worse. Her throat became swollen, she could not swallow food without choking and convulsions. She lost 25 pounds. Because of the pain, Karla was unable to sleep and the staff told her the problem was anxiety.
i. Because the pain, spasms and seizures were not being controlled with Morpheme, and because of the growth of the brain stem tumor, Karla lost the ability to walk. She was given a wheel chair as the means to ambulate.
j. By mid-December, Karla was told by the FMC Carswell staff that radiation therapy would start after Christmas. Then after Christmas, she was told that radiation therapy would start after the first of the year. Just prior to the New Year, Karla was informed that radiation therapy would start in February 2009.
k. On December 31, 2008, a letter of complaint was sent to the BOP by Karla’s family, through Sen. Crapo’s office to the Central Office of the BOP. Apparently, that complaint caused a change in Karla’s care plan as radiation therapy began on January 2, 2009.
l. Karla was also allowed to see a Psychiatrist for anxiety and was given a sleeping medication and her pain medication was changed to Oxycotton (a synthetic Morpheme) twice per day (which is inadequate to control the sever symptoms she was now having).
m. The radiation brought additional pain because Karla was unable to control her involuntary body movements from the tremors, spasms and seizures which were less than two minutes apart. As a result, because she could not hold still during the radiation treatments, a much larger area of her spine and brain stem were exposed to radiation. Karla’s radiologist recommended that she see a neurologist to increase the dosage of Morpheme in order to get the pain, spasms and tremors under control.
n. The burning from the radiation produced massive amounts of pain on top of the spasms, tremors and seizures, which were not being controlled by adequate amounts of Morpheme, but the staff at FMC Carswell informed Karla that she would not be able to see a neurologist until after the radiation therapy was completed.
o. In her last communication with her family by phone, Saturday, January 3, 3009, Karla stated that she did not, on her own, have the strength to sit up, or turn over in bed. She explained that while having a seizure, her face became buried in her pillow and that she almost suffocated. In that call, Karla told her family that the staff at FMC Carswell said there was a policy which prohibited her from informing her family about her health condition or telling about what the staff was doing. In fact, the call was cut off and her call hung up on her family in mid-sentence because of the staff at FMC Carswell monitoring the call and switching it off. Under duress, she was forced to sign a contract with FMC Carswell that she would not report her health condition to her family, which she was doing in daily phone calls previously. Denying her access to her family and denying her the ability talk about her health care is contrary to Karla’s human rights under international law and treaties.
p. At this point, Karla’s family believes that she is in the process of dying, which process is being hastened by the substandard medical care at FMC Carswell. Karla’s family believes that if she received an immediate compassionate release, according to the plan set forth below, she would go to the home of her mother, Darlene Fuller of Harpster, Idaho, from which she would begin medical care and treatment in a local cancer facility. If she were released, she would no longer be subject to the torments of the staff at FMC Carsewll, which has created a tremendous psychological burden for her, interfering recovery.
q. Karla’s family hopes to create a hospice like environment for her to increase her ability to withstand the pain and recover, and in the event her disease state has progressed to the point that she is likely to die, to create a loving environment where she can spend her final days, without being tormented as a “troublemaker” because she is in pain, and without being threatened with solitary confinement because she seeks help and without being prohibited from seeking help by talking about her symptoms, care and treatment, which is a healthy form of talk therapy that is known to aid in a person’s healing process.
r. The exceptional circumstances in favor of Karla’s release are that she remains imprisoned today when she should have been released in February 2008, unreasonably delayed diagnosis and deliberately postponed treatment, while she is suffering from a life threatening, fast growing, brain tumor which is not being properly treated. If proper medical treatment does not begin soon, her family believes that the cancer likely will take Karla’s life prematurely. Because, there is no objective person to monitor her care and treatment at the FMC Carswell facility (as the staff is trying to cover up their abuse and neglect) and Karla’s family has not heard from her in four days, which indicates she is being restrained from calling family in order to cover up the staff’s misfeasance, malfeasance or non-feasance, she needs to be in a private sector environment when her needs can be met. Because of the restrictions already placed on Karla’s ability to communicate with her family and the denial of proper treatment, it is likely that she will have no opportunity to curb such neglect or abuses in the future, therefore, continued placement at FMC Carswell is not appropriate. It is believed that such abuses if not halted, will likely contribute to her untimely death.
s. The family of Karla Fuller is asking for a fair, legal and humanitarian solution that would include her immediate compassionate release, so that she can commence treatment in the private sector and receive compassionate care from family members private care providers.
t. As proof of that the information provided above is correct, the Central Office of BOP relayed the following information from Karla’s medical record through the office of Sen. Crapo where Dr. Nahla Lorenzi stated that Ms Fuller was transferred from FCI Phoenix to FMC Carswell with the diagnosis of right brain stem Astrocytoma:
“Before her arrival Dr. Reyes (Clinical Director) had already submitted a consult for her to be evaluated at the Cancer Center for chemo- and radiation therapy. She was prescribed Oxycodone ER 3 times a day and Percocet every 4 hours for breakthrough pain as well as Baclofen for muscle spasms. A non-formulary request for Gabapentin was denied by Central Office as there was no clinical indication.
“On December 12 she was evaluated by the radiation oncologist Dr. Lanasa, who explained to Ms. Fuller that her mass is unresectable and that concomitant chemo- and radiation therapy may prolong survival and reduce her current symptomatology.”
“Ms. Fuller agreed to treatment and will start as soon as they receive her pathology and MRI reports from Barrow Institute. She has also been given a wheelchair for ambulation.”

Wating to hear from Karla...

Peter Stegner from Senator Crapo's office contacted us today. Our attorney contacted him with our concern in not hearing from Karla in 4 days. Peter Stegner spoke with the BOP and they said that we can call the Executive Assistant who will refer us to someone else, but that they can not give out sensitive info about Karla until she signs a release form for the person inquiring. Do you know how hard it has been trying to find someone to contact concerning Karla? Why is it so difficult? It should not take an attorney and a Senator to find out how your loved one in the prison system is doing. Also, we were informed by Peter that the BOP is preparing a response to our earlier inquiries.

Testing the Water

Karla was sent to a women's federal prison camp in southern California. One of her jobs there was testing the water for contamination. The prison camp was next to Victorville(the same Victorville that the Erin Brochovich story took place in). The inmates drank and bathed in this water. It was while Karla was at this facility that she began to have symptoms. After she complained of her symptoms she was transferred to Arizona. When Karla was asked if any other women at the California facilities became ill and were sent away, she said "Yes, alot were". Karla's symptoms began as long ago as last February, but she was not given proper medical attention until last November. The Cancer Institute's life expectancy for this kind of caner is only 44-74 weeks with treatment. We are eager to get her home with loved ones where she can get appropriate medical attention.

Back Pedaling

I thought that a compassionate release form had already been filled out for Karla, but I was mistaken. We are busy getting that done today. Julie is faxing the forms today to our attorney and then he will fax them to the BOP. Then we will see what happens. If everything runs smoothly we could be going to get her anyday now. It all depends on the BOP's side.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Our Karla



Anxiously Waiting......

Karla's mother was desperate to go see her dying daughter. We were getting the funds together for an airplane ticket from Idaho to Texas. There was a hitch in the plans, however. We were informed that Karla could only be visited in the designated inmate visiting area. Karla is bed ridden and can not sit for more than a few minutes at a time. Karla's mother is heart broken that she can not see her dying daughter, since Karla can not come to the visiting area. We have since been informed that when an inmate is in a serious medical condition, the Warden is to grant the family extra visiting privileges. Karla has been requesting to see the Warden for 3 weeks but has been denied. Karla's sister, Julie, requested that Karla call her everyday, as we are concerned for Karla's well being. Julie told Karla that if she doesn't hear from her she will assume something bad has happened. We have not heard from Karla for 3 days..........

Creaking the Wheels of Justice

After the letter from our attorney was sent to the BOP, things began to move...alittle. Karla, who was once told that her treatments would not start until Feb., was informed that her treatment would begin the next day.....a coincidence? Karla is now recieving chemo/radiation, but is not being given adequate pain relief to deal with the effects of the tumor and chemo. She told her sister that she feels as if her body is on fire. She is being denied the chance to see a psychologist for help with the anxiety she is feeling over her situation. She is continuing to have seizures and is not receiving adequate monitoring. We have been informed that Karla's treatment by the staff is worsening with the pressure we are putting on the facilities in Karla's behalf. While on the phone with her mother, Karla began to have a seizure and almost smothered herself in her pillow. If this were happening in any private hospital there would be a lawsuit going on...and rightly so.

Letter from our Attorney

Dear Sen. Crapo:

Karla Fuller, a long time resident of Harpster, Idaho, was sent to the U.S. BOP after a drug related conviction in Wyoming. She has been incarcerated in Arizona, California and then Arizona again for a drug program.

She completed all requirements for an early release in February 2008, which should have been honored by BOP but was not. The basis for her early release in Feb. ’08 is that, while incarcerated, she completed her GED, attended the drug program until she became sick with cancer, was a model prisoner with good behavior as a first time offender entitled to have her sentence reduced by one-quarter under the new law.

She is now suffering horrible and unrelenting pain at this time due to cancer developed while in prison for which she is being denied treatment and palliation. If the Government had kept its word, she would be a free woman at this time to obtain the treatment she so desperately needs from private sources. Private sources would not deny or delay the life saving and pain mitigating help from radiation and chemo-therapy needed to stop the pain, shrink the tumor on her brain stem and give her the chance for remission.

Although incorrect in its analysis and delayed in its calculation as to her release date, the BOP advised her in the Summer of 2008 that she would be released April 2, 2009 to go to a half-way house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Her regular release date is in 2010. At this point, due to the neglect of the medical program at BOP FMC Carswell, Karla Fuller is in the process of dying because of lack of treatment of a fast growing tumor, causing spasms, seizures with black outs, paralysis and tormenting her with pain, which because of lack of proper treatment, is the equivalent of torture with no relief. She is requesting a compassionate release under series 6000 of the BOP Policy/Forms and specifically Patient Care - 6031.01, pages 32-34.

Apparently, there was a bureaucratic failure to update her records by the BOP as to her accomplishments set forth above which would have allowed her to be released in Feb. ’08. She remains imprisoned today suffering from this life threatening medical condition that likely will take her life if she does not receive immediate treatment. Doctors at the BOP have diagnosed her with a fast growing tumor of the brain stem which requires immediate radiation and chemo therapy for control of pain and paralytic symptoms. That treatment was scheduled to begin in mid-December, then rescheduled to “after Christmas”, then rescheduled to “after the First of the year” and now supposedly will take place in February 2009. The initial results of her biopsy were known November 28, 2008, the Friday after Thanksgiving. However, the bureaucrats at the BOP have denied her access to effective treatment, by repeatedly postponing that treatment supposedly until February 2009. With the multiple rescheduling of radiation treatment, it is apparent that her Feb. ’09 date is just more lip service and unacceptable, because with the fast growing nature of said tumor, it is likely she will be dead or the tumor will have progressed to the point that it will be untreatable and irreversible by February.

It is obvious that the BOP is attempting financial management of medical resources while playing with the life, health and suffering of Karla Fuller. As evidence of the deterioration of her condition and her need for immediate treatment, the BOP acknowledges that her ambulation is now in a wheel chair, which means she is going down hill fast and the BOP is simply waiting for her to die, or for her cancer condition to become so advanced that no treatment would be effective, thus, justifying their inhumane decision to deny treatement.
The family of Karla Fuller is asking your office to intercede on Karla's behalf, before it is too late and obtain for her an immediate compassionate release so that she can get proper treatment with private providers.

There is strong evidence that employees at the FMC Carswell are being vindictive and retaliating against her when she makes requests for help, which started after she signed the authorization and release of medical information to your office, Sen. Crapo. You should know that her jailers are accusing her of being a "trouble maker" and threatening to throw her in the "box" (solitary confinement). Her only offense is that she is asking for the treatment that she was promised and the medication used previously in her care in Arizona and which worked effectively controlling the pain for her when the tumor was first discovered.

Those in charge of her care have accused her of being a “trouble maker” because her family reached out to your office and exposed their neglect and abuse. She is accused of being “drug seeking” yet, all of her symptoms are organic and the tumor, which is of a type that produces great pain, is well documented in her BOP records. Her caretakers say that her problems are solely based on anxiety. If anxiety is the only cause of her spasms, blackouts, dizziness, double vision, gagging, lack of sleep from severe pain, loss of 25 pounds from inability to eat, then surely the anxiety is a real condition and drug treatment would be justified by her condition, and the BOP should not be denying anxiety medication (if that really is the problem). She has asked to see the psychiatrist and been denied for three weeks. It looks as though she may be able to see the psychiatrist tomorrow, who is the only one that can prescribe anxiety medication. But this is only a band aid and will not solve the organic and physical problems of seizures, spasms and blackouts.

The seizures with muscle spasms, produces a wave of pain coursing over her entire body 1.5 to 2.0 minutes apart lasting 35 to 40 seconds each, when she was taking percocet and muscle relaxer. When trying to eat, food gets stuck in her throat and swallowing produces a gag response which induces more muscle spasms. Since she has refused the muscle relaxer and percocet, the spasms are now spread out over her entire body, but are 10 minutes apart. She now is in continual and chronic pain all of the time. She feels heavy chest pain like a heart attack with each spasm now, since it is not being controlled. Ask yourself, if she is truly drug seeking, why would she refuse the percocet and muscle relaxer, unless they were making her symptoms worse?

Previously, when diagnosed with cancer at the hospital in Phoenix, she was given morpheme, which mitigated the pain. Now she is given Oxycodone which does not provide any pain relief or allow her to sleep. Because of the Oxycodone, her throat swells and she is unable to swallow food as mentioned above, and if she tries, when it won't go down her esophagus, rather it puts her at risk for aspirating food into her lungs or choking to death. Because she is not able to eat, she has nothing in her stomach to buffer the drugs she is given, and the lack of food causes her to constantly be nauseous. There are meds to treat both the nausea and anxiety, but they won't giver her any of these, they just taunting her, threatening her with the “box” and literally laughing at her. When she was in the Phoenix facility she was properly medicated and was not having convulsions or serious pain. However, when she arrived in FMC Carswell, there was no doctor to write any orders over the weekend and the pain started to get out of control. Once out of control, the spasms and seizures have been rampant and no adequate medications have been given her to try and mitigate the problem. If Gabapentin would help her situation, it has not been offered. The abuses of Karla by the BOP amount to a form of torture. We cannot believe that in America, a person suffering such incredible pain from a medical condition would also have to endure the humiliation and tormenting as explained above.

There is information available to indicate that the privatization of the prison system may be influencing BOP release decision for inmates. What do you know of the prisoner bonds issued and sold on the stock market as a way of monetizing the prison system in America with debt. Those bond are apparently traded on the sock exchanges and purchased by investors all over the world. The value of each bond supposedly is $50,000 per year giving the BOP an incentive to hold a person, such as Karla an extra year or two. Even though, Karla and others may be in a publicly supported facility, they are bonded as prisoners which helps support the revenue stream of the private prisons. Thus, it is profitable for the system to keep people in prison because it helps pay for the salaries and expenses of those in the private sector. Therefore, there is an economic incentive for the gov't to fail to honor early release dates in cases like Karla's.

You must understand that when Karla was imprisoned in California, she was assigned to testing the cancer producing water near Victorville. Her prison was immediately across the street from the town that was closed down by that cancer producing water. Her family visited her there and was amazed to see a ghost town of nice, modern houses and businesses totally deserted, boarded up and fenced off. The movie about Erin Brochovich was based on this town and its water system. Karla was given no adequate protection from the water when she was testing it and apparently, the cancer she has now was induced by this exposure. Brain cancer, leukemia and birth defects were common from the Victorville water. The water given to prisoners to drink at the Victorville facility (named with an Atlanta, California address as window dressing) was chlorinated which is an inadequate treatment for this type of contamination. If that area and its water is not sufficient for a residential population, then why is it acceptable for both a mens and womens prison camp to be located there?

The family of Karla Fuller is asking for a fair, legal and humanitarian solution, which would include her immediate release so that she can commence treatment in the private sector.

Thanks for your consideration,

Wesley W. Hoyt, as attorney for an on behalf of the family of Karla Fuller.

Quest for Justice

Our sister and daughter, Karla Fuller, is an inmate incarcerated at the Carswell federal medical facilities in Fortworth, Texas. She was diagnosed with a brainstem tumor on November 28th of 2008. She didn't receive treatment for 4 weeks. I have started this blog to chronicle Karla's story.
I would like to start with a letter that was written to Senator Crapo(Idaho) by our attorney, Wes Hoyt. This letter is in behalf of Karla. It is quite long , but does a good job of explaining Karla's situation.