INMATE CHOOSES TO CONVALESCE UNDER CARE OF TDOC
by Sharon Rondeau
Over the last several months, Harmer has described a number of medical ailments including extreme fatigue, possibly resulting from his diagnosed iron-deficiency anemia; worsening degenerative joint disease (DJD), and more recently, possible hypothyroidism.
In his letter received Tuesday dated November 20, 2019, Harmer wrote that he saw prison physician Dr. Mock on November 19 and that the doctor “told me that I’ve been approved to go to Special Needs for consultation on my left knee.”
“Special Needs” refers to the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville. According to its TDOC entry, the medical center “provides a number of services for the Department to offenders with multiple and complex medial problems, including acute and convalescent health care, intensive mental health intervention, three skilled nursing units in the Health Center to provide care for offenders recovering from surgery or serious illness, housing for offenders whose treatment regimen is not manageable at other TDOC facilities, inmates with long-term medical needs, and a community hospital to provide inpatient and outpatient care for the offender population in a designated secure area.”
Harmer had previously had surgery on his right knee, and in recent letters described similar problems with the left knee. He has also had a right hip replacement and anticipates having the left hip similarly replaced in the future.
“No matter what they do now I’ll not be fully well before my release date,” he wrote. “In fact, Dr. Mock said I probably won’t be one [sic] (done) with everything until November 19, 2020. So Dr. mock [sic] essentially admitted they will have to keep me in TDOC custody and care until November 19, 2020.”
On Harmer’s TDOC online entry, his release date is stated as February 26, 2020. He was ineligible for parole given that he was required to serve 100% of his 25-year sentence.
As Harmer reported over the summer, a subsection of Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 41-21-204 states that an inmate may choose to remain in medical custody while “sick” “until the inmate’s health is restored, except at the inmate’s request.“
Provision (b) of the statute provides that “The medical director shall conduct a daily outpatient clinic. Any inmate who is ill shall receive proper medical treatment.”
In a letter dated August 26, 2019 to Gov. Bill Lee, Harmer, citing the law, made the point that it would be “less costly” to the state’s taxpayers if his multiple medical issues were treated sooner rather than later. To The Post & Email’s knowledge, Harmer received no response to his appeal to Lee for prompt medical treatment.