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Letters to the Editor

January 15, 1999

To the editor:

I take great exception to the December, 1998 letter "Inmates get free medical care: why can't my mother get help?"

I sympathize with M. Earley's plight concerning her mother's medical care and expenses. However, she is using fallacies and a gross misrepresentation of facts if she's using the Western Maryland regional prisons for a comparison.

She states that we get free medical care, including dialysis, laser eye treatments, and the most expensive AIDS drugs. She further goes on to say that we get free television, free room and board, and are even allowed to order carry out pizza and Chinese food.

Here at Roxbury, we have to pay $2 to see a nurse. And then if the nurse feels an inmate needs further treatment say other than some aspirin or cold pills, this inmate will be put on a list to see a P.A. This can take anywhere from two to five days, depending on how many medical requests the staff has to process.

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Now $2 might seem a small price to pay, but remember, the inmates who do have jobs in this institution make an average of $18 a month. Out of this $18 toiletries, stamps, and other miscellaneous items are paid for. If you want a personal TV you have to pay for it.

Inmates do not get the best and most up-to-date progressive AIDS treatment. I believe they get AZT and a high calorie diet, and when their immune system starts to seriously break down, they are sent to MCI-Hospital to die. And yes, I would hope that inmate can get dialysis and laser treatment if needed, for I don't think the judges who sentenced most of us wanted blindness or death to occur while serving our sentence because of the lack of proper and accepted medical practices.

The fact is, these huge health care systems that are contracted by the state for inmate health services are profit-oriented companies with stock holders. It is not in their best interest to diagnose a serious medical problem, for if they do, they have to treat it and that costs money.

I'm 43 years old and have been incarcerated for approximately seven years. I've had two so-called physicals that consisted of no more than a blood sample and a couple of minutes with a P.A.

I've had five teeth extracted and more to go because it is the health-care provider's policy not to treat gum disease. I've had my teeth cleaned twice and we now no longer have a dental hygienist.

Many inmates prior to their incarceration had jobs and paid taxes. And many will once again be a part of society to work and pay taxes; taxes of which portions go to building and maintaining prisons.

And lastly, will someone please let me know how I can order some pizza and Chinese food? Not in this prison, Ms. Earley.

Hal B. Koren

#225-338

R.C.I.

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