Mark Hayward's City Matters: Prescription for trouble at Hillsborough County jail
Lock 'em up and throw away the key. Throw 'em in a cell with a sadistic, 300-pound lifer. Take a scalpel to their lower parts. The Valley Street Jail in Manchester has a new one: Don't give them the medication their doctor has prescribed.
Murray, 50, has been in Valley Street since Feb. 20, following his conviction of felony sex crimes involving a young teenager.
According to letters he sends to his brother, the 50-year-old doesn't get his prescription medication for high blood pressure or his prescription inhalers. Four medications for depression and anxiety have been replaced with a single one.
And what worries his brother, John Murray, the most, is that Kevin doesn't have access to Nexium, which counteracts bleeding stemming from an esophageal disorder that can lead to cancer.
"Day No. 4, no medication," reads a letter dated Feb. 23. "Saturday night I was curled up on the floor, fetal position. Nobody helped me. I was in pain all night, my breathing is acting up. No meds, my stool is black." (Doctors will tell you that black stool is a sign of internal bleeding.)
"A doctor and nurse, they take an oath to care for people," said John Murray, a retired highway worker with the town of Merrimack. "Even if my brother wasn't in this mess, I'd be concerned. It's wrong. People shouldn't be denied their medications."
To be fair, jail Superintendent David Dionne said he can't have 500 doctors on the outside making medical decisions for each inmate. He said that once an inmates enters Valley Street, the jail puts in a request for the person's medical and pharmacy record. Once the information is received, a doctor can examine an inmate. But he's under the care of the jail, not his outside doctor. "Our doctor is now his doctor," Dionne said.
Dionne said confidentiality laws prevent him from discussing Murray. He said Murray could file a grievance with jail officials. Or he could write Dionne a letter.
Murray's physician's office — St. Joseph Family Medical Center — wouldn't speak about Murray, or even its experience with the Valley Street Jail in general. A physician at Manchester Community Health Center said she hears complaints from her patients once they leave Valley Street.
"Some of the stories: what do you believe, and what don't you believe?" Fry said.
He told the lieutenant that the nurses took an oath to care for patients, and his lack of care was unethical and immoral. The lieutenant said his crime was unethical and immoral.
"They took me back to my cell," Murray wrote, "and I cried myself to sleep."
Mark Hayward's City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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