Medical Melodrama

Allow me to show you how insane our medical system can be inside the Texas prisons. Back before the David Ruiz lawsuit, when an inmate showed up to the medical department, instead of being seen by a nurse or someone in the medical field, you would be greeted by another prisoner. This prisoner would take your temperature and blood pressure. Even most of the evaluations we received would be performed by other inmates.

Now, let’s say you went in to get your teeth cleaned. It would be done by one of your fellow prisoners. Yes, there would be a dentist or someone in the dental field present, but the one working on you would not be a trained professional And who would want that? I mean, I’m sure every one of us has a few close friends that we’ve known in life. I have a few good brothers in here as well. But, let’s be serious for a moment. The last thing we would want is an amateur or worse, an ignoramus, drilling in our mouths. “Oops. It seems I went a little too deep.”“Well, that’s okay, Jim. You will get better with a little more practice.”

Also, I spoke earlier about the rife nepotism in the TDCJ. Sadly, the medical department is no different. A nurse might have a brother, mother, dad or husband working here as a guard or ranking officer. And, of course, this would cause many problems for prisoners that got hurt, or were sick. If an officer or one of the ranking officers wanted you to be mistreated, they would just speak to their relative in medical, and nothing would be done for you, no matter how serious the problem. There were times when people had a heart attack or stroke because they were ignored, and they were ignored because the pissed off officer or sarge would interfere with their medical treatment.

However, allow me to fast-forward from the Ruiz lawsuit to the present day. Many things have changed. For instance, there are no inmates treating us in medical anymore. And, also, the medical departments are independently-run from the Texas prison system. (If you consider a medical department run and staffed by a state-run and state-funded institution other than the TDCJ to be “independent”.) Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people working in the infirmary that have family members in other positions of employment on the unit, family members that work as guards or such. And, there are still times when the officers or rank involve themselves with the medical treatment of the prisoners, but at least now, it’s a violation of the law.

Depending on what unit you are at, the type of treatment you receive differs. There have been some prisons I went through in my 13 years of incarceration that were so horrible, you wouldn’t believe places like them still existed in the present-day United States. One such prison was the Estelle. It’s in Huntsville. There are hundreds of people there that are very ill. They may have cancer, hepatitis, kidney failure. There are people in wheelchairs, missing limbs, hundreds of blind or deaf inmates. There are prisoners so old and sick that it’s hard to believe the state won’t send them home and let them die in peace. But I am going to talk about Estelle more later in my chapters, because it deserves a whole essay unto itself.

The prison I’m at now is the Stevenson in Cuero, and I admit that, over-all, we do have a good team in medical. Our doctor, Ms. Tupa, has always conducted herself in a very caring way. And the family nurse practitioner, Ms. Heibel, also shows a lot of care for the inmates she treats. There are two registered nurses. One is Ms. Gill, who is great, and has always shown everyone a lot of respect and concern. And then there’s the head nurse, Ms. Doss. Let’s just say that, well, there’s always at least one bad apple in every bunch.

I cannot begin to tell everyone how hateful this woman can be. I have asked myself many times why she even became a nurse in the first place. I’m thinking most people go into the medical field because they care for people and have some skills in healing. Also, I have seen, throughout my life- and especially as my family cared for my son who was born with a chronic heart problem- many people who work in this profession and all the things they do for their patients. I’m here to tell you that these men and women are angels here on earth.

This one lady, though, Nurse Doss, has taken a good medical department and caused so much trouble; not just for the prisoners, but for the staff as well. She is always obnoxious, uncaring, hateful and rude.

I have suffered seizures for many years as a result of a childhood head injury. Back in May of 2012, I started feeling the symptoms of one of my seizures coming on, and I notified the officers on duty that day. They immediately called me out to the picket, wrote me a pass, and I was about to go to the infirmary. The picket officer, meanwhile, had called the infirmary and talked to Ms. Doss. She told the officer not to send me down, because it didn’t sound like I had “sufficient reason” to go. In fact, she said, I needed to send in a Nurse Sick-Call, which is a request form to see a health care provider. These usually take 24 to 48 hours to process. Nobody could believe she was telling me this when I was about to have a seizure, especially me.

You see, I had already suffered many seizures previously. I take 4OOmg. of Dilantin every day. This lady herself had personally responded to emergency situations caused by my prior seizures, so she was well-aware of my medical condition. But even if it had been her first day on the job, a few clicks of the computer would have fully informed her of my medical history. It’s all there.

Anyway, the officers told me to go back in my cell block, and they would call their supervisor. To make a very long story short, I was given a perfunctory exam by this nurse at the behest of ranking officers, and once again returned to my cell block. It was right after I’d come back in the wing that I suffered the seizure, and I fell striking my head on a metal garbage can, gashing my forehead. I regained consciousness with one officer sitting on top of me and another holding my head on a towel. Blood was everywhere. Then Sergeant Corpus shows up on the scene with a video camera, because, just like all the other times, he’s supposed to be taping the whole thing. I am hurt badly, and I’m still bleeding, but for some reason he doesn’t turn on the camera even though TDCJ policy, and the Administrative Directives, require a minimum of two pictures of each injury before treatment and that a written report accompany the pictures.

Needless to say, there was no video, and there were no pictures. And do I have to say that this was done to cover up for Nurse Doss? Corpus was the ranking officer on the scene, and he was responsible for following the policy. Every seizure I’d had prior to this, and everyone I’ve had since had both video and pictures along with a written report. In fact, last time I had a seizure, Corpus was the responder who took pictures. Imagine that.

I have to ask everyone reading this a question. The other ranking officers tried to say there was no cover-up for Doss’s incompetence and outright gross negligence. What do you believe the chances are that out of the thirteen plus years I’ve been in prison, every seizure I’ve ever had besides this one was properly documented, but on this particular day that Doss refused me treatment when I knew I was about to have a seizure, there was suddenly no documentation? I’ll tell you what they are. Zilch. Zero. Nada. He didn’t take the pictures because he knew that Doss’s ass was going to be in a sling for sure if he did. Did I file a grievance? Of course I did. But remember what I said? Who hears the grievance? Somebody’s mom or dad or sister or brother. The Puppetmasters have every piece in order to cover up every situation. They don’t care that Doss would let an inmate get hurt- thank God, this time, not killed. They don’t care if the officers get hurt or killed, unless it serves their purposes. The TDCJ will lie, connive and falsify state documents to cover up anything and everything they do with no remorse.

Doss has received boatloads of grievances and written complaints. It’s unreal, but this is exactly the type of people the state of Texas wants. Falsifying state documents is a crime, but it’s done every day throughout the whole prison system. If they were to press charges on all the guards, rank and other staff, like Doss, they’d end up having to build another hundred prisons! It’s out of control. [Copies of the grievances I wrote and the responses I received are included here. I want everyone to see how they lie and cover up for each other.] If I had to guess, I’d say the complaints against Doss have to be over a hundred. Even the people who work with her have complained about her mistreatment of prisoners and her hateful ways, but of course, nothing ever comes from it. You would think that TDCJ would say, after so many grievances and staff complaints that there must be something to all this paperwork and get rid of her. Or, you’d hope that the University of Texas Medical Branch, her direct employer, would at least pull her out of this position and move her to a different location. This would be logical, right? But the truth be told, Nurse Doss has a history of this type of behavior. And if prisoners wrote grievances every day by the hundreds, it would mean absolutely nothing, because the state of Texas doesn’t give a shit. The grievance system, as I’ve shown, is worthless. The only reason it still exists is because Judge Justice made Texas put it in, and like all of his other reforms, it’s only a matter of time before it disappears. As soon as the feds gave the prison system back to the state, they started running things just like before and fighting in court every step of the way to justify it.

The Puppetmasters will always lie and manipulate. We are just a tool for them to use and abuse. Cheap, free- labor. They could care less about nurse Doss or her endangering our lives.

In my own case, they made light of the situation. They covered for her from the beginning and kept it up until the end, which took some time, since I tried to sue her for her gross negligence. Turns out, in Texas, you have to have a doctor give an opinion that the care you received amounted to malpractice before you can sue them. The only doctors' inmates have access to are right here. Think one of them is going to spill the beans on his coworker?

Believe this. Nurse Doss is not fit to work here or any other place, as a nurse. Very soon, I’m going to show the hard-working people of Texas how the Puppetmasters have even turned the medical department into a con-game that steals from them. Not even you are safe from the Puppetmasters. As I keep saying, the people who control these prisons believe the whole thing is theirs- that it was built to line their pockets. They truly believe they are above the law.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez