Tenessee Inmate Fears Death Will Precede Hepatitis C Treatment


by Sharon Rondeau

(Dec. 27, 2017) — A letter received on Tuesday from an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN describes an ongoing lack of access to life-saving and other medications corroborated by a series of reports by WSMV-Channel 4 in Nashville earlier this year.

Although the same inmate reported in early November that his prescription for Omeprazole, the generic medication used to treat acid reflux disease, was refilled after a several-month absence, he recently wrote that “they are starting to give me the run-a-round again” [sic] in regard to dispensing it properly.

The inmate previously reported that after he was relocated to TTCC in July 2016, he did not undergo a blood test for more than a year to assess the status of his Hepatitis C, which had been well-documented from his previous institution.  The results of an August 8 blood test were not divulged to him until late October, when he was finally informed that his condition is deteriorating.

Other inmates have reported an absence of treatment for Hep C.  “I’ve been denied treatment since 2008,” wrote one inmate in November 2016.

“Went to the K.O.P. window today and was told told [sic] they would have to e-mail the pill provider about my omeprazole.  I due for renewal until 1-24-18 I’ve only gotten two cards of omeprazole,” [sic] Tuesday’s letter, written on December 19, 2017, reads.

A former Trousdale inmate told The Post & Email that “K.O.P.” means “Keep-on-Person” medications.

Tennessee mainstream media has reported that Hepatitis C is vastly under-treated within the state’s prisons.  While the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) asked for an additional $4 million at the beginning of this year to begin treating the more than 3,000 inmates with the disease, Gov. Bill Haslam suggested half that amount be included in a new budget “to combat an epidemic raging behind prison walls,” according to Dave Boucher of The Tennessean.

On January 31, 2017, Boucher reported that “As of mid-November, there were 3,669 inmates known to have Hepatitis C, with only seven receiving the best possible treatment. As the Haslam budget notes, national treatment standards for the disease have improved drastically while the actual treatment and funding in the Tennessee prison system have not. The best available medication cures almost all patients, but it’s expensive. The one-pill-a-day treatment regimen can cost $84,000 or more.”

The author of Tuesday’s letter has repeatedly requested treatment with Harvoni, a new drug with a typically high success rate in Hepatitis C patients.  Despite his deteriorating condition, he has received no response to his requests and fears he may die of the disease while in prison.

He added that he suspects that CoreCivic, the private owner/operator of TTCC, is making an effort to save money by withholding treatment until his possible parole in the spring.

A note written to a “Doctor Lester” by the inmate states that he is “having more pain in my right side coming from my liver” and requests that the “treatment plan” for Harvoni assembled by TTCC medical personnel in the fall be implemented.

He characterizes his lack of treatment for Hep C as a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which states that “cruel and unusual punishments” are disallowed for those in the penal system.

A grievance the inmate filed over the institution’s failure to provide treatment reads:

One Response to "Tenessee Inmate Fears Death Will Precede Hepatitis C Treatment"

  1. Bob Whipple   Monday, January 1, 2018 at 10:04 PM

    Hi Sharon

    It seems to me that even the most stupid of people can see that there is a major effort on the part of the both the state and the medical provider to save money and not provide the required medical treatment as is clearly stated as part of the rights of the inmates. When the dollar becomes more important than what is right and legal, then this represent a totally corrupt government. But then it does start within the federal government where corruption has been taken to new levels for the 8 years under obama. How many federal cases have been filed where is should have been easily seen that the buck comes first over the inmates and the inmate health. How many times have their own doctors had their prescription cancelled or just trashed by nurses, clerks, or by prison officials?.

    I appreciate your information and help to bring these issues to light, but it appears that this is not enough. Several radio, TV and new papers around the state have also gotten involved and yet nothing every happens because federal judges are simply paid off by the corruption factory we know as state and federal government.

    One state senator has made a few waves about the problem, but again where are the results. They just don’t see the light of day. My guess is that until a few judges and the governor go to jail for this, it will continue to be a problem.

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