David’s Heart Part V.1- By Michael Holmberg

Past and Current Failures

The following is a very short list of the WDOC’s failure to provide adequate medical care to address the serious medical needs of prisoners in it’s custody, based on research and experience.

1. Mr. Charles Snipes. On July 22, 1998 Mr. Snipes, while at the Monroe Correctional Complex, died face down on the floor of his cell due to what appeared to be heart related problems, which had been ignored by the medical personnel on duty. His condition was only discovered after three officers entered his cell to physically apprehend him due to his refusal to comply with verbal directives. Initially, he was alleged to have resisted officers – the resistance encountered by the officers was due to rigormortis having set in. Mr. Snipes was survived by his mother, Sharon Cornor, who filed a wrongful death suit against the WDOC, she was represented by Frank Cuthbertson of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell. [13]

2. Mr. Gerard Macottee. In September 2001 Mr. Macottee, while at the Monroe Correctional Complex, was taken to the prison infirmary where RN Rosemary Fitzer accused Mr. Macottee of faking his symptoms, ordering him to return to his living unit. However, the next morning, Mr. Macottee was paralyzed due to an accute stroke, which left him permanently disabled. Mr. Macottee filed suit against WDOC personnel, resulting in settlement. Mr. Macottee was represented by Darrell Cockran of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell. [14]

3. Mr. Charles Manning. In July 2004 Mr. Manning, while at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center, contracted a serious skin infection which spread from his rectum to his genitals and then to his abdomen. The rapid spread of the infection – later diagnosed as Fourniers Gangrene – was due to a decision to delay treatment for two days by Dr. Khirshid. As a result, Mr. Manning endured four separate removals of tissue from his ribs, rectum and the dismemberment of his penis. Mr. Manning filed suit against the WDOC personnel involved, resulting in settlement. [15]

4. Mr. Richard Hibdon. In 2005 Mr. Hibdon, while at the Stafford Creek Correction Center, repeatedly reported having back pain to the medical department he was ultimately ignored, labeled a faker, due to the deliberate indifference of the medical personnel involved. Later, however, Mr. Hibdon was diagnosed, after needlessly suffering, with having a ruptured appendix. Mr. Hibdon filed suit to address his being denied adequate medical care. The case settled. Mr. Hibdon was represented by Thomas Vertetis of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell. [16]

5. Mr. David Ross. In November 2006 Mr. Ross, while at the Mc Neil Island Correction Center, was diagnosed by a Dr. Rifenberry of Tacoma General Hospital with having two inguinal hernias, recommending corrective surgery. Despite Dr. Rifenberry’s expert opinion, the WDOC Care Review Committee (CRC) denied Mr. Ross corrective surgery, leaving him to needlessly suffer intractable pain. After consulting with me, we drafted a grievance addressing the deliberate indifference he’d suffered, which resulted in his case being resubmitted to the CRC for corrective surgery. The CRC approved the second request. Had Mr. Ross not filed the grievance, who knows how long he would have suffered – needlessly. [17]

6. Mr. Jason Keele. In March 2009 Mr. Keele, while at the Mc Neil Island Corrections Center, fell in the kitchen, suffering a severe SLAP tear to his left shoulder. Initially he was given pain medication and a sling to immobilize his shoulder. However, after he filed a grievance against a PA Stoman for refusing to fill out the required L and I forms, PA Stoman and a PA Bartram discontinued Mr. Keele’s pain medication for several months, in retaliation, forcing him to needlessly suffer. Eventually, an MRI was done confirming the severity of the injury, yet the CRC denied the request for corrective surgery. Some months later Mr. Keele was finally provided corrective surgery, only after a concerned citizen personally intervened, taking Mr. Keele’s medical records and copies of his grievance forms directly to the secretary of WDOC – two weeks later he received surgery, after some nine months of suffering. [18]

7. Mr. Jerome Little. In March 2011Mr. Little, while at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center, was informed by a Dr. Trevino of the results of a blood test from October 2010, which revealed an elevated Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screen of 6.0. Dr. Trevino then performed a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE), resulting in significant pain for Mr. Little. Based on these findings, Dr. Trevino recommended Mr. Little be seen by a Dr. Brown, a urologist, who performed an ultrasound of Mr. Little’s prostate, as well as a biopsy, the findings of these tests resulted in a consult with a Dr. Kim, an oncologist. Dr. Kim found that Mr. Little had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, giving it a rating of 8 on a scale of 10. Soon, thereafter, a CT scan was performed confirming Dr. Kim’s diagnosis, resulting in Mr. Little undergoing surgery to remove his prostate. At first glance, this case sounds like a success, except for the fact that the community standard of care was not provided to Mr. Little. You see the standard in cases like this required an annual PSA or DRE for men over 50 in order to provide early detection of prostate cancer. In this case, Mr. Little was not provided either a PSA or DRE for five years, from 2005 through 2010, despite having been seen on nine separate occasions by SCCC medical. 

Go to Part V.2.

Michael Holmberg
DOC #741372

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