Staying Safe in Prison During COVID-19

By The Prison Health News Advisory Board

From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021

Prison Health News asked our Advisory Board members for suggestions on how people in prison can advocate for their safety during the pandemic. We’re very grateful for these responses, which we edited for length and clarity.

Try and stick together, because there are a lot of people fighting for you. I’m for sure one of them.

The first thing I thought of was having people join the lawsuits being represented by the ACLU. People can write to their state representatives and the health department about health violations related to COVID-19 and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for inmates. I also would recommend consulting with the healthcare workers in the prison, because they could be allies in fighting for more PPE and better health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Medical Concerns and Advocacy in Prison: My Perspective

By Joshua O’Connor AKA “Apache”

From PHN Issue 43, Summer 2020

One concern I would like to address is the deliberate indifference and lack of remedy regarding addressing medical concerns in prison. For months, I have been trying to get a new mattress, because my current one is flat and falling apart. In fact, the mattress is only about half an inch thick.

A few years ago (prior to my incarceration), I was in a terrible car accident. My friends and I were lucky to be alive after the accident occurred. I did come away from the accident with multiple injuries, though. I sustained a skull fracture, major concussion, broken leg, broken ankle, and a dislocated kneecap. I still suffer pain all over my body to this day.

The current mattress I have has made my pain so much worse, so I contacted multiple staff members, including medical staff and the sergeant, to ask for a new, better mattress. Nothing happened at first. It wasn’t until I sent a grievance that the sergeant had me come to his office to discuss my concern.

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How to Get Your Medical Records

By Timothy Hinkhouse

From PHN Issue 40, Summer/Fall 2019

Being in prison away from our families and friends takes a toll on us, which can lead to unexpected illnesses. We have to navigate our way through the jail/prison health care processes in order for us to get the treatment we need and in a timely manner, so we can live to see another day.

I had wanted to get a copy of my last blood work from my medical file so I can closely monitor my HIV viral load, CD4s, my liver function, etc. When I wrote to our medical department, this is a direct quote of what was written back: “Release of information contained in an inmate’s health record shall occur only when properly requested upon receipt of a fully completed authorization form signed by the inmate. A complete signed CD-28 should also accompany the request. In compliance with the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 192563, the Oregon Department of Corrections will apply charges to each request for health care records. $1.25 for each page for pages 1 through 10, and then $0.25 for each additional page thereafter.”

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