June 21, 2014

Healthcare in Federal Prison

Healthcare in prison is atrocious. Some helpful prison advice: Do not get sick or hurt.

Doctors in prison are few and far between. For example there is one doctor at FCI Petersburg that covers the low, medium, and camp facilities. There are 1,500 prisoners in each and 340 here at the camp. So, that is roughly 3,400 prisoners and one doctor.

Each place has Physician’s Assistants who can write meds. You can imagine how one general doctor (no specialties) and a few PA’s can help 3,400 people. They can’t very well or at all.

When you get sick, it takes days to get help. When you hurt your ankle, you are on your own. It’s horrific. I will say, in extreme emergencies, they will take you to the hospital. One guy had a heart attack on the track last year. It took 45 minutes to get anyone to help. Then the ambulance came. The process took an hour and a half and the guy died. He would likely have been saved if help came quicker. Just the other day, a guy passed out in our recreation room. I was there and people knocked on the doctor’s office and he came out and we told him what happened, and he said, “I’ll be there in a minute”. He went on to see several other patients till he finally got up and walked 30 feet to see what was wrong. There was a 90 year old man who was having chest pains and the PA said “ok, just see me after pill line” (approximately 30 minutes).

Medication here is terrible. The BOP (Bureau of Prisons) has a formulary as to what meds they can give out. They cannot deviate from this. If you need a medication off the list, too bad. If you need a different med, the PA has to track down the 1 doctor to get approval for the new med and then he/she can write the prescription.

There is one and only on reason for this. It’s lack of proper oversight by the BOP. In my opinion, the medical people here are people that have failed on the outside in their professions. It makes sense because why on earth would anyone take a pay cut to work on prisoners? It’s does not make sense.

Don’t get sick in prison. Don’t get hurt in prison. Don’t make the same mistake I made because you will wind up in prison.

Andy Rothenberg


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